The main purpose of networking is to connect on a professional level for professional gain.
There is an unwritten law that says keep your husband and children out of your conversation unless they are part of the referral for the contact. (For example, "I understand you're an orthodontist, Dr. Smith. My daughter may need braces.") Appropriate small talk is of current events, sports, hobbies, leisure time interests, films and the meeting you are attending. Inappropriate conversation would be the three Ds and the three Cs: death, disease, domestics, criticism, children and confidences. By following the Guidelines of Networking you will leave a meeting with at least a lot of new contacts and probably a lot of new customers.
How to Introduce Yourself
Say your name clearly and often. This saves your new acquaintance the effort of leaning forward and peering at your name tag, which breaks the eye contact so necessary to getting acquainted. Also, networker's usually use first names right away. This perpetuates the personal contact feeling.
Joining Networking Groups
As a member, you will pay a registration fee and monthly dues. Network chapters usually meet weekly, and to avoid internal competition, each chapter allows only one business in each field to join. If there is not a group already formed in your area, you might even consider starting one yourself.
How to Hear It Through the Grapevine
Imagine this scenario: Everywhere you go people approach you and want to do business with you. No more cold calls or hardcore selling. All your business comes directly from people you know or referrals from satisfied customers and acquaintances. Sound like a fantasy?
When you and your employees become effective networkers, business can come to you that easily. Networking is one of the most powerful marketing tools that a company can use, because people prefer to do business with people they know.
Think about it would you pick an accountant or a financial planner out of the Yellow Pages and trust the care of all your assets to this person? Hopefully, your answer is no. Rather, you would ask your friends for suggestions or wait to meet someone feel comfortable with at a business or social function.
The term "networking" was popularized by John Nesbitt's book Megatrends (Warner Books). Basically, it's a new term for an old behavior using your contacts to share information and resources. In its simplest form, you are networking any time you exchange knowledge and ideas with someone. However, the term is traditionally used in the context of networking at business organization meetings usually for sales.
We will define the term more broadly to include networking for anything you need: employees, information, vendors, etc. The underlying principle is: "It's not what you know, but who you know that counts."
Phil Siegel, president of Irvine, Calif.based Consolidated Reprographics, a reprographic service company with annual revenues exceeding $20 million, claims that networking was imperative in getting his business off the ground 25 years ago.
"All my assignments came from referrals from friends," Siegel says. "Then I joined the local Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce, and [the business] took off from there."
"A network is a community of interests, a group which shares the success orientation and is proud of it . . . Perhaps the most important function that networking provides is the openingup of legitimate uses of another's skills. It is hardly possible for a group of different careerists to understand what each other does."
- Barbara Stern
Is Networking For You?