Networking

Introduction

According to Donna Fisher, the American people skills consultant, what comes after an introduction and first impression is the “exploratory stage” when “conversation … leads to discovering commonalities and opportunities - and conversation is where networking happens."

Donna Fisher writes:

Learning to approach people with confidence is a professional skill. It is not about making people talk, or cornering people on elevators, but about your ability to open the door to conversation with the people right around you. When you focus on putting people at ease, and show an interest in learning more about others, small talk leads to connection, trust and rapport.*

As Donna Fisher suggests, in many situations getting to know business partners and building a relationship (rapport) with them through conversation can play a very important role in doing business successfully. Using this interaction to find things in common (commonalities) is one way of building up a relationship. Let´s learn more about networking and building relationships in business.

Resource:

How To Increase Your People Power - used in the introduction to 'Networking'. In this short article, the business communication expert Donna Fisher explains what she calls the "12 People Principles" for successful networking.

Why network?

This extract from an article by Nancy Roebke provides a quick introduction to the role of networking in business. Read the article and decide if the five statements below are true or false.

Why Network?
 
"Networking" is a buzzword today. Everybody talks about it. Everybody hears about it. Everybody wants to do it more effectively. But why? Why do people network, and what do they hope to accomplish?
First of all, networking is the process of meeting people, either through a contact that you initiate, or through an introduction by a third party. Networking allows you to meet, and establish a relationship with, people who may not have heard of your business through any other method.
For most business professionals, networking is done to increase revenue. Sometimes new clients are found, sometimes new suppliers, and sometimes new ways of doing things that increase the bottom line are found through networking.
That means that networking is essential for strong business development. We need other people to buy from us, sell to us, and brainstorm with us, in order to progress in our fields. In order to get people to do these things for us, we must be willing to give of ourselves in return.
We must be willing to hone our relationship-building skills. We must be great listeners. We must be willing to give before we receive. We must get into a networking mode in our minds.*


Resources:

How to Network and Meet Business Prospects - used in 'Why network?'. Nancy Roebke lists the reasons why networking is important in doing business, and explains what is meant by the "networking mode".

Now it's your turn!

Meeting new business partners and building good relationships is an essential part of business life. These interpersonal contacts often happen within companies, for example, when visiting clients at their offices, and so on. However, networking often takes places outside the company, for instance, at:

  • trade shows or fairs
  • business conferences or conventions
  • social events organised by Rotary Clubs or Chambers of Commerce
  • business lunches or dinners