10 secrets to become a successful business networker
1. Why some people network better than others Sure there are those “natural talents” who’ve had connections since the second grade. But those people are rare. Like many business attitudes and attributes, Networking also has tricks and mechanisms one can learn. And like almost all business techniques, networking is a way of thinking, a set of tools, and doing the right thing at the right time. A network is one of the very few things you can’t buy. Build your network piece by piece and carefully over time. And don’t say I’m not good at networking – instead look into tools and methods. It sounds like an oxymoron but the first secret is “openness”. Secret # 1: Be open and don’t question your networking capability.
2. A state of mind Networking is a state of mind. You may have a large list of people but that doesn’t make you a networker. You may be in touch with your friends or business partners frequently but that doesn’t make you a networker either. Many people know a lot of other people but keep their networks close to their chest – that actually PREVENTS networking. If you are not open, don’t expect openness from others. As the name says, “Networking” is the way to connect many to many and some of those connections happen indirectly through invitations of invitations. Often times you don’t have a direct benefit from connecting to others. Once you get to the point where you realize that you connect people to THEIR benefit and help people do business together who may complement each other – you know you are truly a networker. Secret #2: The best starting point is to network with people you don’t plan to sell to or buy from.
3. Ask for help To build your network in the first place think about reaching out to alliances, vendors, local partners, influencers and business friends who you may be able to help you do more business. It’s inefficient to “buy” leads or “buy” access to lists of companies. Instead, you want to select specific contacts on an ongoing basis. That’s why Xeequa developed a freely accessible “Alliance Universe” so people can find other people and companies. Just go on and start contacting companies or people you see a potential for a joint business. And “joint business” means sharing. If you don’t have benefits or advantages to share, develop them first before you contact anybody you don’t know. Think about why should they do business with you. If you have trouble identifying advantages or a business to share, here is an even hotter secret: Secret #3: Ask peers for help! You will be surprised how many networkers are open to helping you become successful
4. Introductions One of the most important acts in Networking is introductions. Introductions are the foundation of network building. The most important deals are done between people who already know each other or are introduced to each other by somebody they trust. But as networks grow larger, business is being conducted faster and more geographically dispersed. Virtual introductions, typically done by email, have became a socially accepted and important practice in business Networking. Xeequa developed a method of virtual introductions where the introduced party can turn such an introduction into a business opportunity and actually track how the connection was created in the first place. These Vintrosâ„˘ now not only help to get introduced but also keeps track so you may share commission or a fee with your introducing parties. Secret #4: If you donâ€™t ask for an introduction, you will rarely get introduced ;-)
5. Share opportunities When we introduced the idea of opportunity sharing the immediate question was “Why should I share an opportunity with anybody?” Well, because the more people who are involved in an opportunity (with limits), the more knowledge you will assemble. The more resources you have, the better you can treat your customer. And the more people participate, the more people can help close a deal. The days of the “lonely wolf” sales guy are history. Today customers expect you to have access to the smartest people. It is the networker’s advantage to pull those people in. One challenge remains: How to keep track of all the involvement and how to know who pulled in whom? Xeequa engineered a unique way to securely and selectively share opportunities with people you trust and keep track of everybody’s progress. Secret # 5: Share opportunities to do more with more people.
6. Always have an up-to-date contact list The “power networker” typically has large networks and wide reaching connections. The challenge of course is to keep all those contacts up to date. That’s one reason why social networks have become quite popular. Everybody maintains their own record and all records and connected parties see the changes. Xeequa provides a base for thousands of companies and millions of individuals to maintain their own records and have access to everybody. That’s way it is easy to keep track of the company AND the people working for that company at any given point in time. Networkers relay on each other and commit to their network. A must do is to keep track of all your connections and stay in touch. For many contacts it is OK to just reconnect twice a year – others need more attention. Secret #6: Invite your contacts to join your network and get an always up to date list by letting your contacts update the information themselves.
7. Know your territory and reach If you are a marketing person for a local shoe manufacturer in Ohio, nobody expects you to have connections to the bio industry in India. But if you are a real estate agent in New York your customer would be very delighted if you have contacts in Seattle if that customer is about to relocate. Similarly, if you are a high tech vendor it is very important to understand where all your partners are located so you have a clear picture of the power of your network. But rather than having your partners only on a list, Xeequa developed network maps that show â€œup to the minuteâ€? location information of connections in your network. Now that map will not only show you one type of connections like resellers, but ALL your connections in a selected territory. Secret #7: Understand what kind of connections you have in what territory. Make sure you have good coverage of all types necessary to be successful.
8. Make your area of competency visible An old advertising saying goes “Do something good and talk about it.” This is important for people as well as companies. Xeequa developed a “Specialist Finder” to let partners expose their skills in various technologies or brands and expose them in a way that allows a customer to search for skills and find the right teams. For most business people it is more important to have the connection to somebody with connections then a connection to the skilled people themselves – simply because demand is constantly changing and the good networker keeps up with those changes. Advertising competency is expensive so leveraging directories in special interest groups or industry associations is an easy and inexpensive way to get recognition. Secret #8: Associate your expertise with your company and vice versa and expose it wherever you can.
9. Have the best tools In the 60’s, the Rolodex™ was pretty much the only tool a networker had. PDAs and cell phone became important additional tools 90’s. Social Networks or Business Networks as a technology are the tools of choice in the new Millennium. Since we cannot open up our CRM system to every alliance, vendor, partner, or influencer we deal with, we may instead open up a secure and controlled pipe to those people. As a power networker, you have to have the data at your fingertips to conduct a meaningful business dialogue. Integrating network tools such as Xeequa with CRM/PRM systems is extra leverage for both the networker and companies simply by putting more horsepower behind every opportunity. Secrete #9: While the act of networking is highly personal, tools are critical to keep track existing and develop new relationships.
10. Build your network on 3 layers. Every business is built on 3 pillars: People, Companies, and Transactions. Social networks only manage the people part. People move on and change careers. So as you have relationships with people AND companies, make sure you donâ€™t lose your business if your key contact moves on. Always build your network around companies too. And because we are talking business, there is a third aspect of the network: the transaction. To some a sales lead is just an address or business card â€“ to others it is a new branch in your network that needs nurturing and development. A proposal may be a confirmation in sales or a connection to the financial department. Secret #10: Never forget that in business you deal with 3 independent yet connected networks: People, Companies and Transactions. Build a backup in each layer.
Social networking for Business? Xeequa gives you a new tool, to strengthen your business network and interact with openminded business people, who are relevant to you. Xeequa is interactive, so you can develop & share joint opportunities and go across company boundaries. Leverage and connect your CRM/PRM. Business is all about connections! Are you well connected?
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