Why have I been networking for 20yrs?...Been in BNI for 11yrs?... Own and run The Business Club?
The answer would seem obvious; referal business, trusted relationships and education in all areas. But why exactly has that been the result?
I ask this question because I still meet people who claim that networking doesn't work for them, or they meet the wrong sort of people or clients. The companies are in the wrong industry for what I need etc.
There is a simple answer to that - B*******!
The fact is that some people have an acute lack of awarenes about what is in front of their faces, how to react socially and in business and how to seek out synergy and opportunity. We can all suffer from this but if we are more aware we can optimise and capitalise on our networking activities.
I am a 'High Red' - I can be brash, 'in your face' and irritating according to that character trait. However, I accept and understand that and I am extremely mindful when meeting someone timid, quiet and understated. Obviously my character traits can be completely overbearing to someone like that and perhaps confrontational to someone of the same character as they see me as a 'threat to their stage'. On the positive side I am said to be loyal, encoraging and supportive and if I can get this message accross it will cement relationships! This is not rocket science but frequently I find myself in groups of people at networking events where the annoying 'in your face salesman' is throwing his business cards at everyone in the room without any change in behaviour towards individuals who sometimes have vastly different character traits!
Learn to recognise character, be more aware and learn from experts in body language, psychology etc - seek them out (we have numerous presentations on this at The Business Club)this will all serve to improve your networking abilities. Sometimes you can make assumptions on people's character from the way they dress, this can be dangerous and frequently wrong, but sometimes certain things are spot on. Learn to spot the signs and compile your own database of reference points in your mind and you will begin to see common threads. What immediately put you at ease with this person? Why did you instantly connect? Can you replicate this?
Notice I am not talking about particular trades, Industries or professions, I am talking about PEOPLE. If you learn why you like people, why they like you and how you connect then lasting relationships will form and no one knows who knows who. Effective networking is about building a huge circle of advocates; people who know, understand and like you to the extent that when they come accross common ground your name is the first one that pops into their head!
Be aware of who you are
Be aware of how others may percieve you
Be aware of how you take action directly affects the result