November 12, 2013
Networking continues to be a key factor in creating your business relationships. Entrepreneur states that 92 percent of 12,000 business people surveyed said that it is still important to their success. Turn those initial contacts into long-term business relationships by learning the right communication skills.
Whether you are negotiating with the new supplier or addressing a customer concern, Forbes says to be polite and courteous. The simple acts of saying "please" and "thank you", being on time for a meeting or call, and being a good listener, leaves the other person with a positive impression of you. It does need to come from a sincere place. Just saying the words is not enough.
You may have been in this situation. You meet someone at an event who talks your ear off about their business while shoving their business card into your hands. Then they leave without asking about your business. Be excited about your business when talking to a customer or peer. Then ask about what they do and listen. If you've done a good job with your elevator pitch, they will ask you to tell them more.
Any time you may have a chance to talk about your business, be 100 percent ready. Dress for the image you want to give off to your potential customers. Print business cards and keep several in handy locations such as your coat pocket, wallet, or briefcase. Know your elevator pitch inside and out. You never know when the person in line next to you at the coffee stand might become a valuable contact for your business.
Long-term business contacts thrive because they are mutually beneficial. If you want to receive referrals from the people on your network, send them referrals. Call them and say "I have a client that wants XYZ. Do you think you could help them out?" People will know that you are thinking about them which brings your business to the top of their list to think about, too.
Follow up your words with action, Inc exclaims. Calls like the one above that never result in your contact seeing a referral will send the message that you're not serious when you call. It's like the guy you see once a month at the networking meeting who says "Let's get together for lunch." every single time, and you never do.
Make contacts within businesses no matter what their size, says Entrepreneur. A company much smaller than you could become a valuable niche resource for your business. You can just as easily become a resource for a much larger company. Don't limit your contacts by size of the company. The more variety in your contact list, the easier it will be to find just the right resource you need, when you need it.
You may decide to take some customers to a soccer match, or invite several business contacts to a happy hour. When in a social setting with your contacts, maintain professional boundaries with people. The customer you're having a beer with at the game could be the one that calls next week with a difficult product problem, or a vendor may try to dominate all of your time at the happy hour. Leave everyone with the impression that you will treat them all equally and professionally. No one gets better treatment because of something that happens at a social event.