How you can improve your networking skills

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How to grow your networking skills

WHEN PETER HOSTED the local chamber of commerce's small business breakfast, he always introduced himself as an area real estate attorney.

LEARN MORELearn more about business networking from the experts. To help you, we have compiled a list of several books, that range in price from $2 upward, on networking. Some will be of benefit to beginners and others will advance their skills.Check them out.The result was that the hundreds of local small business leaders who attended the breakfast invariably turned to him when they encountered real estate issues. They knew and liked him as the host and therefore trusted his skills.

Boost your profits by networking.Establish links with business contacts by telling them during a meeting or over lunch what your company does.For Peter, therefore, hosting the breakfast was more than a volunteer job. It was a networking move. And it paid off for him big time.

You do not have to be a host or address a meeting to build a business network, however. Roger, who attended the small business breakfast regularly, cleaned carpets and obtained much of his business at the breakfast meetings from those whom he got to know over time.

Networking can be practiced in many ways. What it amounts to is that the more decision makers you know or who know you, the more you are valued in the marketplace and the more business you will attract. Indeed, the old adage, "It's not what you know, but who you know," is truer than ever in today's world of networking.

By networking you develop contacts who can help you. You maintain those contacts as you build new ones.

Over time, those contacts will help you grow your business.

At the same time, you should be helping the contacts you make. When you need them, they will be there for you just as you were there for them.

The reasons you should create your own business network are to:

  • Make your name known in business circles
  • Build contacts
  • Draw on resources and
  • Generate business through them.

But how do you build a business network? How do you grow it? And where do you start?

Check the box alongside for eight tips to help you do so.

And check out the books we have chosen to help you become an expert at networking.

Eight tips to help you build and expand your networking skills1) Attend business eventsJoin associations such as your local chamber of commerce, economic development board, Rotary or Lions. If your local chamber of commerce has a small business breakfast, attend it regularly. Go anywhere you will meet other business people.2) Sit with new peopleSelect a table where you can meet people you don't yet know. Find out about their business. Tell them about yours. You might want to meet again.3) Mingle everywhere you canAt every reception or cocktail party there are always people who are alone and look awkward. Go up to them and introduce yourself and your business. You will have made a new contact.4) Develop an interest in othersEveryone has a story. Find out what they are from those you meet. You might learn something about running your own business. Or you might find a new client.5) Join organizations.Join the local chamber of commerce and volunteer to help in any way that helps you gain exposure to other business executives. Don't stop there; take an active role in any organization that can help you gather contacts and enlarge your network.6) Volunteer on non-profit boards or committeesBecome involved in your community and seek to help others. Not only will it be rewarding for you personally, but you and your company will be seen as valued members of the community.7) Build alliancesYou might find that someone you meet runs a business with which you can align yours. Or perhaps you can expand your business with their help.8) Hone your skills.As you expand your networking efforts, you will find yourself learning as you go. Learn from any mistakes you might make and repeat experiences that are effective.Work to make yourself visible, friendly and, above all, a good listener.Avoid actively selling yourself; simply mention who you are and what your company does.

 

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