Top 5 Business Networking Tips

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays. It’s all about love. That is why I am spreading the love today.  My friend and colleague, the amazing Greg Peters, of the Reluctant Networker, is providing the guest blog today. Greg is a savvy networking expert and shares his 5 top business networking tips. You don’t want to miss this. 

Top Five Business Networking Tips

More than two decades ago I decided to start my own business as a Web developer. Yes, I decided to become…

…an Entrepreneur!

What I rapidly learned was aggressively waiting by the phone wasn’t sufficient to make it ring. I had to get off my chair and do some prospecting. The way I saw it, I had three options.

First, I could advertise. That seemed expensive. Skip it.

Second, I could make cold calls. I’m not big on rejection. I’ll pass.

I heard that networking was a pretty good way to go, so I thought I would give it a shot. Then, much to my shock, I discovered that my years of experience as a computer programmer hadn’t really prepared me with tremendous social skills.

Fortunately, I had some great teachers to point me in the right direction. I persisted through my early failures and finally found success in my first entrepreneurial adventures. So you don’t have to go through that same process of trial and error, here are 5 tips and tactics on creating your own entrepreneurial success through networking.

    1. Just do it. With due apologies to Nike’s marketing division, networking is not a spectator sport. You must be present to win. Email is a great support tool, as is social media in its various flavors. At its base, through, networking is meeting other people face-to-face. Get out there, shake some hands and say hello. If they don’t see you, they won’t know you.
    2. Leave your sales hat at the office. I know you are trying to grow your business. You need cash flow which means you need customers. This is not the time for that. The strength of networking is in developing strong relationships. Your connections are the ones who will find opportunities for you.
    3. Make it about them. You can’t make friends if all you are doing is talking about yourself — and networking is essentially making friends on purpose. Be interested. Be curious. Be fascinated. Ask questions not only to find out about them, but to discover how you can be of service.
    4. Follow-Up. Meeting new people is great, but not enough. Exchanging business cards is wonderful, but not enough. 95% of networkers fail at this step. They don’t follow up with those they meet. You can’t “aggressively wait” for them to reach out to you. If the person you met seems like a good connection, then you must reach out to them.
    5. Know what you need. What will you say when a networking partner asks, “How can I help you?”. Will you know what you need? Can you tell them in a way that allows them to help? Do you need customers? Can you describe them clearly? Do you need employees? With what skill sets? Are you looking for strategic partners? In which industries? Your network can do so much more than simply provide you with customers. Make sure you keep them in mind for any need you might have.

Entrepreneurs often get caught up in the “do it yourself” mindset. After all, if you wanted to depend on other people, you could still be simply an employee, right? To be successful, though, in any endeavor, you must have a team to support you. Employees, vendors, customers, mentors, coaches — without them our achievements will be inconsistent at best.

And that is what your networking is all about.

After twenty years of building powerful professional connections to support his own businesses, Greg Peters now works with other “Reluctant Networkers” in the financial, credit union, and banking industries.  http://TheReluctantNetworker.com