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Networking Tip: Don’t Cut Your Own Throat!

Have you ever been at a networking function talking to someone and felt uncomfortable and unsure if you were saying the right thing? Were you afraid you might screw up and alienate the other person and destroy any change of doing business together? If you have, rest assured “don’t worry, be happy”. Let’s discuss the reason why being careful about what is said can destroy any success in the networking environment.

Too Much Wasted Time?

Networking Tip picThe goal in business networking is to establish and nurture long-term business relationships through a process of follow-up, trust building, and accountability developed over time. Just like any relationship, being honest and interactive plays a critical role in that development.

Upon meeting someone for the first time, everyone wants to make a good impression. People often exhibit their “best face” to ensure success. This can often cause problems that are unexpected and long-lasting. One problem is that trying to appear as something we are not will create fear of discovery and distraction making the situation uncomfortable, and frankly a waste of time. Other people sense it unconsciously and tend to push away. Not the desired result we can assume, right?

Most people worry that “just being who you are” will not be enough and others won’t accept them. Contrary to that belief I submit, if we don’t, sooner or later the “real you” will come out and then everyone will have to deal with the consequences – mostly negative or damage control related. This leads to feelings of distrust and potential separation.

A Good Example

You finally meet the person of your dreams and lay it on thick. Talking about personal triumphs, embellishing your storied past, and perhaps exaggerating a little bit or glossing over the negatives. Later the truth comes out in conversation or worse, by accident. It sets the stage for difficult times and a whole bunch of mumbled answers and apologizing. In my opinion, it is better to risk being true to who you are up front, telling people exactly how you feel. In general people are forgiving and want to forgive. Apologizing for something you said that is potentially embarrassing is a heck of a lot easier than to back pedal when lies are uncovered and you have to explain why. Say goodbye to your credibility.

Chill Out and Relax

A bit of advice for your next networking activity- relax, be genuine and honest. You will have more fun and people will be open to speaking with you. A specific agenda to get to know others will make you more productive and the event more rewarding. People like passion and honesty and develop trust rapidly leading to what we all desire – new business opportunity.

Enthusiastic passion and authenticity are great building blocks for networking. If you love what you do and show it – honestly, others will congregate around you. You will be happier and appear happier. As we all know, happy inside will lead to expression of happiness outside and others can see it – a big smile is attractive and inviting.

To sum it up, just be yourself. You will be more positive, have better results and will find yourself looking forward to the next event and following up with new acquaintances. In the fullness of time, the measurable difference will appear in many ways besides a boost to your bottom line. Perhaps you might even gain more friendships and the referrals everyone talks about. It is a proven fact that friends really do refer friends.

If you want to discuss better ways of communicating and develop a simple networking strategy, give me a call. If you don’t then watch out for sharp knives…


The Power Of Small Business Networking Compels You

Does it really? A sunny afternoon, sitting in your chair, the phone is quiet, e-mail is slow and you “have” to fold laundry or vacuum or think of something for dinner. What’s wrong with this? NO ACTIVITY! It is so easy to create “busy to be busy” and avoid the fact that sales are slow and you really don’t know what to do. Guess what… STOP! Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.

Don't Let Distractions Become Your BusinessTime To Build A Plan

Open your eyes and pull out a pen and paper and write down five people whom you haven’t spoken to in a long time, five prospects who haven’t called you back, and five leads that you should talk to. Next write out three ways your product or service can help other businesses be successful – NOT YOURS! Now, pick up the phone and dial. Leave messages for each one telling them that you have something wonderful to tell them about and to call back as soon as they get the message. If you get them live, set up an appointment to discuss how you can work together to develop results… not success, not sales, not revenues, not money, not moving the conversation forward – just plain old results. The reason you don’t label the outcome is because results can mean different things to each person and you want to “close” them on communication and activity not a quick sale.

Turn Ideas Into Action

Evaluate your success. Did you  reach five of the fifteen? How many appointments? Regardless of the results write down five ideas/issues that came from the conversations or messages. Review them and put them into an e-mail with the subject line… “Help! I need some advice from you because I trust you.” Craft each e-mail message to discuss the ideas and ask for feedback from ten to twenty contacts from your secondary network. You will experience up to 10% response indicating ways to deal with your ideas or issues. Note  I said secondary network. Your primary network knows you, has done business with you, or is active with you socially. The secondary network might be part of your trickle marketing, friends of friends, or people whom you were referred to in the last 60 days because they were a potential “good fit” for your company. They all should be on the outskirts of your “know, like, trust” group but potentially interested in your product or service.

Networking Power

Everything I have discussed so far can be considered “sales 101” in the sense of creating not stagnating in your business. Distractions are far easier than conducting business and I guess that is why we call it work. Having said that, what we are addressing is the difficulty every business owner faces daily in regards to activity, lead conversion, time management, and critical thinking. Setting up a patterned system to contact, promote, and stimulate networking will lead to unrealized rewards. The key is consistency, follow-up, and defined strategy. Don’t waste time with contacts, businesses, or people who don’t really move you forward to your goals.

Who Should I Talk To?

The only thing you can control in your business is you. Your time, energy, drive, self-management, and passion for success. You have to clearly define your goals on paper and talk about them with others prior to launching campaigns, going to networking functions, or … folding laundry. The reason small business owners let distractions take over their focus is because it is easier to complete something immediately tangible than to struggle with a long-term initiative. When was the last time you decided to review billing, evaluate year-to-date numbers, or analyze resource capability rather than picking up the phone or sending a directive e-mail? I suffer from the same issues and literally rise from my chair and walk in a circle and sit back down to re-focus.

Develop Good Habits

Take the time to analyze your reaction to stress, lack of activity, and how you deal with distractions. Develop a system to break the status quo and launch new activity-driven campaigns or initiatives and  better your business today. For example, in the first part of this article, focusing on five cold prospects, five active leads, and five potential targets gears you up for action not stagnation. The system should include simple actions that are performed in order, be measured, and slightly changed for maximum benefit. Strengthen the habits that lead to positive outcomes and ignore ones that lead to distraction. Now is the time to start. Don’t wait, don’t think, just do! Remember, the only one you have control over is… YOU!


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