Relationship building is the catalyst for success. People do business with those they like, know and trust. Networking is one of the most productive, ways to build relationships if done well. It serves as a resource to help others succeed and if others succeed you succeed as well. You must continually connect with new people, cultivate and nurture relationships to continually leverage your network.
According to Herminia IbarraMark and Lee Hunter in Harvard Business Review “strategic networking plugs the aspiring leader into a set of relationships and information sources that collectively embody the power to achieve personal and organizational goals.”
As a Business Show Ambassador; the Business Show is one of Europe’s largest business events. The Business Show event included Going Global, Sales and Innovation Expo and Business Start-up along with Accountex and Legalex.
With over 300 Seminars and workshops along with 350 exhibitors and 25,000 visiting companies of all shapes and sizes, participating in speed networking, dragons den and business connections areas. There is something for every business leaders and budding entrepreneur looking to start, grow, expand and export their business.
Strategic business networking is planning to network to achieve a clearly defined objective. Just like any business networking opportunity, the work starts long before the event, here are 8 steps to strategic business networking that involves tracking down connections and nurturing the best relationships.
First, decide your primary objective; there is no value in arriving unprepared. Is your objective to?
- Building collaborations, partnerships relationships.
- Developing Contacts, Clients or Customers.
- Research new industry, competitors, suppliers, customers, substitutes, products or services.
- Create awareness and engagement of your products and services.
- Develop export opportunities.
- With your clearly defined objective in mind view the show catalogue is available long before the event, select your contact list of event attendees, exhibitors and speakers.
- If you do not know the people you need to know by name, do you are aware of their job titles? If you want to meet people who can introduce you to their contacts, make a list of those you already know.
- Research each company and contacts to find common interest and relationships to build rapport.
- Connect on LinkedIn with a brief introduction.
- Prepare discovery questions to open the conversation and to help refine the contacts need and inform a future pitch.
- Plan your day, book relevant workshops and seminars and invite contacts to meet over coffee.
- Prepare relevant material for specific prospect meeting.
- Practice your 20-second results based introduction of the service appropriate to your prospect business requirements.
Do not get distracted with activities that do not fulfil your defined objective strategic networking is 50% research, 20% contact specific preparation, 20% listening and 10% talking. The temptation is to sell and jump into a pitch without having first built and nurtured a relationship, or discovered and refined the need.
Business Leaders must develop new relationships to develop and grow their business. You must accept that networking is one of the essential requirements of your leadership role and continue to allocate enough time if your effort is to pay dividends. Strategic networking will inform and refine your relationship, and progresses your relationship and business.
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