By: Sophia Demetriades
We’ve all heard it before; ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know’ or ‘it’s not who you know, its how you manage those you know’. No matter the quote, the message is clear; success is more about the actions you take to achieve it. If it is true that we are the sum of the people around us, we need to engage with people who in some way will help us achieve what we want. You could say that the future of your business is born through your networks!
Unfortunately, many of us are not efficient networkers. Excusitis claims reasons such as: “I‘m too shy”, “it hasn’t worked in the past”, “I don’t have time” etc etc. But can you really afford not to network when its the most likely way for you to win work?
When it comes to networking, quality definitely means more than quantity. You need to spend time building genuine relationships. In business, there is no point knowing hundreds of people if none of them mean anything to you. Referrals are the most robust strategy in job hunting. In short, a referral means that someone who knows you endorses you to someone else in their network and vice versa. No job application needed.
Mark Foster from WaveTrain has had great success meeting people through the Norwegian Chamber. In 2015 Mark attended the annual Cruise for Europeans, a networking cruise on Sydney harbour for all the European Chamber of Commerce. Here. Mark was introduced to members of the German Chamber of Commerce through Norwegian Danielle Mathiesen. Mark was then introduced to Deutche Bahn who became a client of WaveTrain. People are 62% more likely to do business with someone who is a member of a Chamber of Commerce.
Michelle Gamble from Marketing Angels, agrees. I met Michelle at a networking event for Small Business September in 2009 where she spoke about the power of social media. Two years later Michelle hired one of my friends Erin, who I had met at a university course the previous year. So for both business and employment, networking works. More than 60% of employment happens through networking.
So what skills are required to network like a pro?
Ivan Misner Ph.D. is one of the worlds most renowned academics and professionals in networking. Misner has conducted research on his privately owned professional business network, Business Network International, for more than 20 years. The research confirms a set of 7 must have skills to be a pro networker:
- Be sincere
- Have a positive and flexible attitude
- Listen properly, don’t just wait for your turn to talk
- Follow up on referrals, call or meet in person
- Work your network effectively
- Be trustworthy and Reliable
- You must like to help others
Make sure you make an effort to learn what these 7 skills mean and how you can employ them. Tell people about them. Make a networking scorecard and game plan for how you will network in the future. If you would like to learn more, you can buy Misner's books ‘networking like a pro’ and ‘networking and sex’ or contact me for resources.
Next time you meet someone:
1 Introduce yourself in context
2 Be Interested
3 Request Contact Information
4 Follow up
Because future business is born through networks!
Sophia Demetriades Toftdahl
Sophia has been a professional networker for 6 years, owned a networking business for students looking for work and internships, built an online marketplace for connecting employers and interns, worked as a networking trainer for Business Networks International (BNI), worked as a relationship manager for entrepreneurial networks, and founded a bi-lateral Chamber of Commerce.
7 Vital Networking Skills: