Can you please give me some advice on how to be a better networker? Thanks so much, Carole.
1. You have to be prepared. Networking opportunities can present themselves anytime, anywhere, so you always need to be ready to meet new people. Know in advance what types of people you want to meet, what types of questions you want to ask them and what kind of information you’re looking for. Keep an open mind. Plan for networking events in advance. Schedule regular meetings in your calendar. Always be on the lookout for new events or opportunities to find people who can help you.
2. You have to give. Whether it’s a marriage or a business partnership, all good relationships are built on give and take. In order to work and play effectively, you must therefore first understand the concept of “giver’s gain”. Humans are driven by a desire to be reciprocal. As best-selling author and Professor Cialdini states, reciprocity is one of the most powerful influence and communication techniques. The power of reciprocity, and our human desire to want to give back to others who have first given to us, is one of the most effective ways of building a supportive network. Likewise, one of the most powerful attributes of successful sales people is their willingness to share their network with the same fervor that they are willing to share their knowledge. So give of yourself first. When you meet a new contact, be the first to share information or pass on a referral. Then be sure to follow up to find out how the referral worked out. Practice this principle of sharing, and you’ll be rewarded with loyalty, and with trust.
3. You have to listen. Motivational guru Zig Ziglar teaches us that the best way to get what we want is to first help others get what they want. But how do we find out what others want? By listening. As sales people, we are taught effective speaking and presentation skills. But perhaps an even more important lesson – and certainly a much rarer one – is how to be a truly effective listener. My father used to say to me all the time, “Colleen, you have 2 ears and one mouth. Use them in that proportion!” As a good rule of thumb, you should speak 30% of the time, and listen 70%. How do you do this? By asking questions that start with Why, Who or What.