TO THE NEXT LEVEL!



Imagine this: You're just about to enter a packed room.

PaperbagIt's full of complete strangers and you're going to randomly select one of them and tell them about your business. I bet this article should have come with a built in brown paper bag as I can feel the queasiness and distinct level of ‘ewwwww' oozing out of you.

To many, this scenario ranks right up there with volunteering to go to the dentist for a medication-free extraction or playing piñata with a bee hive. But let me tell you, as a professional networking facilitator, I have run hundreds upon hundreds of events. So before you absolutely close the door on networking, give me a chance to explain how you can make these events a pain free, and should we say it, YES, even an enjoyable experience.

1. Business Networking Builds Relationships
There should be no slick used car salesman approach when you network. Networking is about seeing if you and the person you are speaking too have a common interest and could build a business relationship. For those with the old school mindset of collecting business cards to spam someone, those days are long gone.

2. Business Networking Builds Confidence
Do you remember the first time you drove a car? It was pretty scary wasn't it. I bet when you jump into your vehicle now you don't check your rear view mirror 100 times or get nervous with a lane change. Why? Because practice makes perfect. The same thing applies with networking, the more you do it, the better you get.

3. Networking Can Extend Your Reach…. for free.
The more people you know, the more people know about you and your business, that's easy math. Think of every new person that you meet as having a team of 10 others around them, this is their social circle. So for every 20 new people you get to know, you have 20 direct contacts but 200 indirect ones…. This is what I like to call `efficiency for free`!

4. Business Networking Is About the Other Person
For those of you still worried about networking remember this tip. Networking isn't really about you; it's all about the other person. You should be more `interested` than `interesting`, meaning ask more questions about their vacation instead of going on and on about yours, find out what got them into business and what they enjoy most about it. If you go in with this mind set, not only will you decrease your nervousness but you can also find out if the person you are networking with is the right fit as a business contact, or even a friend.

When it comes to networking for your business, remember your ultimate goal isn't to sell, it's to open up lines of communication with others is the room. Keep this approach in mind and hopefully you can keep the paper bag at home!

Karen Baring


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