Mention the word networking and you usually either get a "where and
when" response or a look of "not me!" For the latter, a networking event
may be synonymous with a root canal. But it doesn't have to be painful.
Unlike things like parenting, which you learn only when you become
one, you can learn how to network.
To start off, rather than looking at networking as something you "must
do", it helps to think of it as a tool to help you grow business. That is,
actually, what it is. It's meeting people?. talking, sharing, discussing.
It's not going to a function where you know you'll be uncomfortable and
passing out all of your business cards. Nor is it seeing how many cards
you can collect.
So let's simplify it. Let's take networking and break it down to its basic
components..or what I'm calling nuances.
1. Networking is about meeting new people and building your network.
It's not blatant selling. In fact, the "in your face" salespeople are not
good networkers. They turn people off.
2. Lighten up.
Stop thinking of a networking event as something you're forced to get
through. Instead, think of it as a chance to meet interesting people in a
comfortable environment with good food and drink. Take some of the
3. You're not being graded on this.
People are not there to see whether you're doing a good job or not.
They don't care.
Networking events present opportunities to build your network. Period.
4. Learn from the pros.
There are people who love to network and do it regularly. You probably
know some. They write books and newsletters. They build websites on
networking. Visit their websites and read their books.
5. Feign interest, if necessary, until you feel it.
Twelve step groups teach you to "act as if?" Try it. Act as if you're
enjoying yourself and you may find that you are. Sometimes it's just
getting over the fear of something new.
6. Think of what you have to gain versus what you have to lose.
If networking didn't work, why would there be so many networking
events? Things don't succeed if they're failing. There must be something
to gain if so many people are attending these functions.
7. How are you building your business?
100% of my business comes either from client referrals or networking.
It's a lot cheaper than placing ads or running commercials. All you need
are business cards. You don't even have to hire anyone?. although if
you do hire salespeople, you'll want to make sure they can network as
part of the job.
8. Networking adds value.
How? Because growing your network helps your customers. And being
able to help your customers adds value to your services. The more
people you know, the more contacts you have for services and goods.
This helps you become a resource for your customers and colleagues.
My clients know they can call me for just about anything, and I'll
probably be able to help them. If I didn't network, there'd be no way to
9. Networking helps you learn and grow.
Small business owners, especially, can become isolated. It's important
to stay active in your business community and in your industry. You
need to be current on what's going on that affects your business. You
need to stay on top of trends. And one of the easiest ways to do this is by
networking?joining organizations, chambers of commerce, networking
groups?attending events, lectures, seminars and workshops.
So, if you've been avoiding networking, now's as good a time as any to
give it a try. You have nothing to lose and a lot of potential business to
Copyright ? 2004 Rickey Gold & Associates
Rickey Gold & Associates is a small, hands-on, Chicago-based
marketing communications firm which focuses on helping clients
identify, entice and sell to their target markets.