“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get others interested in you.”
– Dale Carnegie –
“The same could be said for increasing your professional network.”
-Heidi Richards –
Building your Network is an ongoing process. Increasing your “Circle of Influence” must be constant in order to achieve and maintain success. The relationships we develop become our eyes and ears to what’s happening in business, to share new opportunities with us and to increase our visibility. We reach these opportunities both directly and indirectly through those relationships. The indirect approach is often the best way to gain access to others by way of introduction or spreading good news about who we are. It is essential to develop a networking plan both for business and personal contacts. In business, the right networking can be ten times more effecting than advertising. And it costs less!
Your Networking Plan of Action should define your objective
- Is it to increase business by a certain percent, get more referrals, or help others?
- What can you offer those you network with in exchange for information and contacts?
- Which organizations should you consider for the best “bang for your buck,” and most importantly, your investment of TIME?
- What benefits do/can you offer to entice people to do business with you? This is your “30 second commercial.”
Build Your Network
- Ask your current “circle of influence” for opportunities to which they can “turn you on.”
- Determine and develop “key people” who will become your greatest networking champions.
- Find out who in your network’s network seems to know “everyone,” and get to know them.
- Reach out and “touch someone,” regularly. When you do, have your lines ready and rehearsed. If you must leave a message, make it short, to the point and leave your contact information.
- Go where the people are.
- Be a good talker and a better listener.
- Get to know your network. Find out their birthdays, anniversaries, kids’ names, hobbies.
- When given referrals, find out who the decision maker is, get to know the gate-keepers.
- Use your network to gain introductions.
- Give referrals to those with whom you network. Become a source of reference to build “word-of-mouth” marketing.
- Be cheerful, confident and straightforward in every interaction.
Be Visible Without Really Trying
- Ask questions.
- Participate in discussions.
- Write letters to your industry magazines and newsletters.
- Introduce yourself to people during meetings, conferences and social events.
- Discuss a book with the leaders in your new network.
- Make people laugh.
- Create an unusual business card – Have plenty to hand out.
- Take up an unusual hobby (but not too weird).
- Use your wardrobe to help you stand out without being outlandish.
- Do favors for others and remember to thank those who do favors for you in a timely fashion.
About the author
Excerpted from The PMS Principles – Powerful Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Business © 2005 – Heidi Richards is the author of The PMS Principles, Powerful Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Business and 7 other books. She is the owner of Eden Florist & Gift Baskets – www.edenflorist.com and the Founder & CEO of the Women’s ECommerce Association, International www.WECAI.org (pronounced wee-kî) – an Internet organization that “Helps Women Do Business on the WEB.” Basic Membership is FREE. Ms. Richards can be reached at www.HeidiRichards.com.