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Your Pain-Free Guide to Better Business Networking
Become a Great Business Networker
As a leader, you know the importance of developing a business network. You may have even read our recent post on the exponential power of increasing your network connections.
Unfortunately, while the words “business network” evokes images of win-win relationships, the term “networking” often elicits rolled eyes and groans.
Can you picture it? A room full of strangers, mingling, polite laughter floating through the air, and business cards being passed around like after-dinner mints. At best, it’s a way to meet new people; at worst, it’s artificial, contrived, and involves some sort of fish bowl/business card contest (ugh).
Yet despite its downside, there’s a place for networking. And, if your time is limited, you’d probably benefit from a better way to expand your presence without always being present.
Enter the New Networking: Connecting
The term “Connector” was used in Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point:
Connectors are the people who link us up with the world...they are a handful of people with a truly extraordinary knack for making friends and acquaintances.
It’s basic logic that the more people you meet, the larger your network becomes and the more opportunities may arise, for you and for others.
But being a connector doesn’t need to fall solely on your shoulders. The key to success for your business is to create an internal team of connectors.
When connecting, there is no need to force your staff to attend happy hour after happy hour, shaking hands and taking names. Instead, here are a few helpful tools you can use to help your networking team:
Start with Selflessness.
True connectors look to help others before themselves. Encourage the members of your team to approach every conversations with, “how can I help this person?” instead of, “how can I get this person to buy from me?” The difference may seem subtle but, to a new connection, intentions are profoundly apparent.
Support the Community.
While many consider networking an activity associated with business, the best networking often happens in the context of volunteerism and civic engagement. Working with others on a shared project -- pro bono -- is a great way to evaluate business strengths and potential relationships.
Play to Your Strengths.
Look for networking opportunities that naturally align with you and your team’s interests and passions. You’ll be more engaged and apt to meet others that have shared values and interests.
Ultimately, creating a team of connectors increases your company’s brand presence.
Your selfless acts result in being associated with great words like “caring,” and “giving,” and “helpful.”
And what business wouldn’t want that kind of reputation?