Networking can lead to new business

The Art of Networking That Gets Results

Summer will officially begin in a couple of weeks. Do you feel that’s a time to slack off on your business? After all, most potential clients will be away on vacation anyway.

But networking is year-round. And there is an art to doing it right as author Andrea Nierenberg advises in her new book Networking That Really Works.

It’s possible to meet people everywhere. They may not be prospects themselves but could be connected to others who are. You need to leave yourself open to the possibilities.

You already have connections that you can leverage, says Nierenberg, including friends and relatives, religious affiliations, social and business clubs, charities, business and professional associations and social media.

Building Your Network

The first step in building your network is to identify the people with whom you want to build new relationships, she says. You will already know many of them. They most likely include:

  • Clients or customers
  • Suppliers and vendors
  • Co-workers and colleagues
  • People in your profession and industry
  • Like-minded people
  • People you meet in “everyday life”

You may be thinking that you don’t have customers or clients or, if you do, they aren’t sources of new business. But the reality is that you’re constantly selling your ideas to others. Everyone, if effect, becomes a “customer” if they can lead you to new business.

Your customers are the lifeblood of your business and if you keep them happy they can also be your advocates by referring you to prospects.

Suppliers are excellent sources of referrals. Think of all the products and services you buy in your business and personal life. They could include your dry cleaner, hairdresser and even your doctor. Nierenberg gives a personal example of her IT consultant. As he was installing some software on her computer, he overheard her talking on the phone to a prospect.

It turns out the person she was talking to was her consultant’s childhood friend and he helped get her in the door. She returned the favor by introducing him to one of her strategic partners and now he’s doing that person’s computer work.

Be Willing to Give

Be willing to share your experience and expertise with those you are getting to know. You can’t think of networking as only getting. You have to give in order to receive. That may be a cliche, but it’s true. Seek out other professionals and offer to help their business grow. They will be glad to return the favor.

You’ve got to have a positive attitude towards networking. Rather than something you dread doing, think of networking as an exciting way to meet new people. Sure, some of them won’t be helpful. But you will meet many more that can become part of your growing network. Over time, many of these connections will lead to new business or a new job. Some will become personal friends.

“Each day holds amazing networking opportunities for you,” says Nierenberg. “It truly is a small world, and  you never know what will come from the connections or contacts you make…of course, much of this has to do with our following up. Things happen when we take that action step after life has presented us with a variety of opportunities.”

So don’t let the summer months go by without strengthening your networks. The new people you meet and the old connections you revisit may be just what you need to jump-start your business.

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  1. So true, Jeannette. I once traveled–flying–with a millennial on a business trip. I dress business casual, he dressed for the gym. We met up with colleagues in another airport–all dressed biz casual. I think he readily saw that he had made a mistake. You never know where you meet someone and should always be ready to put your best self forward.

    And yes, give before you expect to receive.

    • RoseMary — you make a good point: know your target audience. You won’t make many connections if, as you note, you’re in sweats and the person you want connect with is of another generation dressed in a suit and tie.

  2. Networking can open many doors if done in the right manner. There are great benefits in sharing business ideas and receiving them. I have been offered several opportunities all via networking and met some talented and encouraging people. My next challenge is to improve on my face to face networking as currently the majority is done via social media.

    • Phoenicia — Networking on social media opens a whole new world of potential business relationships, but eventually you have to go “offline” and meet in person, in my view. Great the you’ve uncovered several opportunities.

  3. Agree completely that all year round even in unusual ways we end up networking. Consequently we have to be prepared to do whatever we need to do with new connections. And maybe most important we have to remember that networkiing is give and take. Those who just try to take will fail.

    • Catarina — So true, that you have to give to get. Nothing is more irritating than being at an event and having someone “spamming” the attendees with his/her business cards. That’s not the way to build new relationships.

  4. Networking is at the very core of all that I do. I love interacting with new people and finding common ground. And I love sharing thoughts and ideas with long-time acquaintances equally as well. Effective networking has helped build my career, and have made my life so much better in every way.

    • Thanks, Doreen, for coming back again to comment. While some people find networking distasteful, it can be fun because, as you say, you have the opportunity to meet new people and learn new things. More people be helped by having your great attitude.