Small Business Marketing Insights and Tips
Jim (name changed), was an “idea man” and one of the best networkers (or con artists) I ever met. Jim was a co-worker who was hired into our marketing department from sales. Something struck me about him. Every time I had to meet with him about a work-related issue, he was always willing to talk with me—about everything except work! Furthermore, I always seem to leave our meetings with the responsibility of the action item. After a few more meetings like this, I realized what he was doing. When I confronted him, he replied, “I’m not much of an implementer.” Well, at least he was aware of his weaknesses. Jim got this job through his co-worker, who he used to work with in the sales field, who also was just hired into our department. Hmmm!
I quickly discovered that many people who were offered career opportunities were not, in my opinion, better at their job than I was. In fact, many of them were less qualified. So, how do these people survive or even thrive in a company?
Well, it’s been said that people will do business with whom they know and like. In fact, if two people applied for a position or bid on a project with the exact same qualifications and background, the one who would most likely get the job would be the one who is better liked by the hiring manager.
Look at it another way. Regardless of the person’s ability to do the job, would you rather work with someone you like or someone you didn’t?
So, is networking a bad thing? If you consciously choose to connect with your contacts in order to obtain something, is that dishonest? I guess it would be if you didn’t have the substance behind you to support your claims or if you didn’t offer information or opportunities for others to network with your contacts.
Networks are present in all facets of our lives—our brains are made of neural networks, businesses like MCI offered a long-distance discount service called “Friends and Family”. And, probably the biggest network that revolutionized new ways and opportunities for sharing information is the internet. I recently was invited to attend a virtual network that, when invited, you are linked with the people with whom your host knows and with whom they know, and so on. Through this medium, I have met new business associates and reconnected with past co-workers.
Over the years in corporate America and now in my own business, I realize that networking is especially valuable and fulfilling to both those with whom I network and those who want to network with me.
Here are some tips for powerful networking:
1) First look at your own beliefs and attitudes toward networking.
Do you like to network? Does it feel dishonest? I guess it would be if you didn’t have the substance behind you to support your claims or if you didn’t offer information or opportunities for others to network with your contacts.
Maybe you are uncomfortable or afraid to start a conversation with others. This is very common and can be overcome by learning how to network effectively.
2) Define your objective or goal for networking.
When networking, it’s important to know the type of fish you want to catch when casting your net. Who or what opportunity are you trying to find? Be as specific as possible. For example, in the next 90 days, what opportunities are you seeking?
3) Ask how you can help others.
The quickest way to get others to help you is to genuinely offer your services to them. The law of reciprocity is inherent in most human beings. It can be as simple as passing a name along to someone else in your network.
4) Share your goals and ask for who or what you want to find.
If you know and are committed to your goal, tell others you meet about it. Describe the details of your goal and what opportunities you are intending to find. In my experience, most people want to help others. Don’t be afraid to ask specifically for how that person could help you.
5) Be grateful.
Whether or not another person sent you on a wild goose chase or their help panned out to be a successful lead, follow up with an email, phone call or hand-written note to thank them for taking the time to help you.
In this life, we are all connected anyway (by at most 6 degrees, I have discovered), so why not encourage and strengthen these connections when we can. Needless to say, I no longer hate networking!
Keywords: Networking, Connections, Opportunity
Doreen holds an MBA and has spent over 25 years working at major corporations and small businesses in finance and marketing. As a certified professional development coach at Way to Goal, LLC www.waytogoal.com, Doreen specializes in helping small business owners and solo-entrepreneurs grow and market their businesses with ease.
Copyright 2015 Doreen Amatelli. Way to Goal, LLC All Rights Reserved