Our guest author today is Mary Erlain, and her contact info is below.  Thanks Mary!

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Networking grows increasingly complex with the explosion of social media channels and technology. In turn, what worked in the days of our parents and grandparents to bring people together may not be enough today. Networking is the lifeblood of a successful business, and those who master it reap fantastic results.

So I ask the question, “what and who are you looking for in your business networking efforts?” You are probably saying to yourself something like “Duh!” or “That’s a dumb question,” or perhaps just find yourself saying the word “leads” out loud. Yes, that’s true, but what are you missing and why is it not working for you?

If you do work in advance of an event, you can determine several things. Wouldn’t it be better to spend some time to determine the value of the event in advance instead of wasting precious time at an event that doesn’t meet your needs? Wouldn’t it be worth spending some time in advance to exploit your networking efforts by deploying a predetermined plan instead of shooting from the hip, crossing your fingers and hoping you walk away with a lead? So let’s explore this a bit more.

I am all about the “give first” mentality in business. Have you asked yourself what you can give to this event? Strange question?

Give:

  • Leads from your network of contacts. Ask the people you talk to loads of questions that would prompt them to talk about what they need in business. These would be questions that may not relate to what you do in business at all. One of the best questions would be:
  • “I have a large network of contacts and love to connect people with each other. If there was one person you needed to meet outside of your next prospect, who would that be?”

Another great question would be:

  • “What is your greatest challenge or obstacle in growing your business?”

By all means, track your results when you use this strategy and compare them to your past results in your networking efforts.

Where do you go – Who do you know?

So your efforts so far have come up with less than desirable results, what now? Who can you ask to find productive networking and referral opportunities? Your first choices can be:

Current clients – are a wonderful resource for ideas. Reach out to talk to your clients in a non-BD conversation to find new organizations and areas to network. Ask them where they find their leads. Share your experiences with them as well. Maybe what was not successful for you, could be just what they need. Schedule these meetings into your calendar once a month at the minimum depending upon your client load.

A similar approach to your clients works well here. Become a resource for the latest events and share them with your vendors and strategic alliances. Teach them to do the same for you. If you want more from your business relationships…you do it first! Invite them along to network together. Shoulder-to-shoulder networking can be very effective; it is like having a walking testimonial attending the event!

Mary Erlain ( m.erlain@peak-ds.com )

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Mary is the President of Peak Development Strategies and a principal in E Group Partners. She is a certified Change Management Specialist (CMS) who believes an organization’s foundation is their people – the employees, management and owners. Her focus is to help companies and individuals meet their goals through uncovering talents and potential. Erlain is a published author/speaker with her most recent books that address the 5 generations in the workplace. Diversity issues are a root cause of many of the problems in business today that effects growth, productivity, and profitability.

She has a mission to strengthen an organization’s core foundation to be competitive in the marketplace. She also has a support system of resources and knowledge of marketplace trends within various industries. Mary works to incorporate the needs of businesses into leadership planning and marketplace strategies.

 

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