Although the majority of businesspeople I know think that networking is easy, I have met only a handful of people who are really good at it. Unfortunately, many successful entrepreneurs who manage to weather the storms of start-up and overcome myriad fears related to small business fail to success to the extent they could because they are terrible networkers!
This happens for many reasons, including:
- a lack of communication skills
- a tendency towards introversion
- a fear of public speaking
- a lack of social confidence
- a misunderstanding of what networking is
- a tendency to “work” the wrong crowds
- a lack of follow up
- a poor attitude about networking
Make no mistake networking is essential to building a business. The good news is that each of the eight contributors to poor networking skills that is listed above can be overcome. All it takes is a little time and effort.
Some experts say you “do” business between 9-5, you “build” business after regular business hours.
Stated simply, networking is about meeting people; people you meet through others or that you approach on your own. People network for a variety of reasons but most often increasing revenue is the ultimate goal. Seasoned networkers know that the positive outcomes of networking are not always instantaneous and that revenue might increase indirectly, for example, through an exchange of leads, an exchange of products or services, and maybe an exchange of intellect or energy. Although many people think that networking is easy, very few people actually do it successfully.
Jeffrey Gitomer, author of “The Little Red Book of Selling” and “The Little Black Book of Connections” elaborates on the definition of networking by suggesting that networking is life skills + social skills + sales skills. You need all three of these skills to be very successful networker.
Life skills includes things like having an ability to take care of yourself, grocery shop, manage your finances, carry on a conversations, drive a car, manage stress and organize yourself, etc. Social skills would include interacting in an acceptable way with others, following social rules, exhibiting courtesy, etc. And finally, sales skills would include an ability to ask the right questions, listen effectively, ask for a sale, close the deal, and follow up. How do you rate in these three areas?