Expert Author Susan Leigh
Some people love walking into a room full of strangers and working the room. They thrive on the energy, the opportunity to make new connections, introduce themselves, plan to meet again, develop the relationships and overall do business. Other people find these situations daunting and even unpleasant.
However, in life we all network constantly. We meet new people on a regular basis, introduce ourselves, form relationships, remember what we have been told. Forming a network of business contacts requires the same skills, in developing leads, friendships, relationships with others.
The most successful relationships are the ones where we look to see how we can help others. Let's look at ways to achieve that result.
- Be the friendly face. In a room full of strangers or of people in groups absorbed in their conversations, be the friendly person who acknowledges them, says hello, is inclusive and makes their time at the meeting more pleasant. Include them in your conversation, introduce them to the others in your group. This will ensure that they remember you at future events.
- Be interested in them, but not intrusive. This establishes a friendlier relationship rather just a potential client or customer. Remember their story if possible, their holiday, their children's latest exploits. Your relationship moves from being simply that of an acquaintance and establishes a stronger connection. It also provides a reason to strike up a conversation when you next meet, to enquire how they are doing.
- Be genuine. It's easy to smile, promise lots of interest and then sit back, waiting for others to send you business. That might work in the short-term. Keeping in touch, sending information that may be of interest, occasionally meeting for coffee are all ways of demonstrating that you are genuine and are not just out for yourself. This approach builds longterm, sustainable relationships.
- Ask what they need by way of leads. What kind of customers are they looking for. Understanding more about their business helps you to clarify better how you can help them. You may think that you understand a person's business, but gaining a more specific insight into what they do, their niche and specialist areas, how they are looking to develop and grow helps you to help them more effectively.
- Discover if they have problem areas. Finding ways in which you can help resolve challenges and difficulties will help to enhance your reputation. This may be result in you helping several of your contacts with one simple action. By introducing a printer/ business coach/ specialist accountant you may resolve business problems, support several of your contacts and help them more successfully move forward in their businesses.
- Take opportunities to help them understand more about your business. Perhaps share good news, success stories, offer examples of ways you've helped others with similar problems. Some professions have to be discrete with this strategy but there are subtle ways of educating contacts as to the type of help you can provide.
By helping others become successful you enhance your reputation which generates a win/win situation for all. Your customers and contacts improve their businesses; as a consequence they require more goods and services, value your support, and come to regard you as someone they can trust.