Are you someone who thinks that business networking is all about selling and convincing people to buy your product or service? While that’s the whole point of it, business networking is more than just selling a product. It is about building strong relationships, listening to the needs of your connections, and finding opportunities with mutual benefits.
The power of business networking is incredible but only if done the right way. And, by the right way, we mean investing time in building relationships. Strong, meaningful relationships can help you stand out of the competition, build trust & confidence and develop emotional intelligence.
Studies have shown that:
- 95% of professionals consider one-to-one communication vital for long-term business
- 46% of freelancers get work through their network of friends and family
- 85% of positions are filled by networking
Here’s how you can get more value from Business Networking:
Attend a networking event
The first step towards effective networking is building quality connections with people who could add value to your business. While there are a variety of ways to build connections, attending networking events will give you an opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals. Wondering where to start from? With over 280,000 members worldwide, Business Network International (BNI) is the world’s largest business networking organization that conducts networking events all over the world. Find upcoming networking events here.
Start with listening more
A lot of people think that networking is all about speaking confidently and going out there expressing themselves. But honestly, it’s the other way around. Effective networkers quickly empathize with other people and try to learn more about their connections. And, what better way to know about someone than listening? As our Founder Dr Ivan Misner famously says, “A good networker has two ears and one mouth and should use them both proportionately.”
Have an elevator pitch ready
What kind of conversation do you have with someone you just met in the elevator? Mostly, you would talk about what you do, who you work with and so on. Well, that’s an elevator pitch. It is a small description of you in 60 seconds or less, in a very conversational way. Having an elevator pitch can ease any anxiety you may have while networking. Practice your elevator pitch with friends, family or coworkers to get it on point.
Establish a CPI (Common Point of Interest)
Have you observed that you can talk to some people for straight hours? And with others even a one-minute conversation seems like a lifetime. What is it that clicks with these people and doesn’t click with others? According to our Founder, Dr Ivan Misner, it’s the CPI. When you develop a CPI (Common Point of Interest) with someone, it helps establish a bond between you and the other person. Your duty, as an effective networker, is to discover the CPI as soon as possible. It helps establish a bond, increases your approachability and allows others to feel more comfortable talking to you.
Follow up with your connections
Building connections is just the half battle won. For winning the other half you need to follow up with your connections. Following up ensures that you keep the relationship going. There are a lot of ways you can opt to follow up like sending a note saying how much you enjoyed meeting your connection, forwarding a relevant article, inviting them to a seminar or conference, or even just sending a friendly note during the holidays.
With thousands of BNI chapters worldwide, BNI provides a global business network that remains unmatched. To know how to get connected with people on a global level, click here.