Networking Made Easy (Almost)
Many years ago I came across an online discussion regarding networking and like many discussions, important techniques, anecdotal stories and tips were exchanged – All very valuable but I like to distil business education down to its very essence, summarise it using easy to follow and repeatable steps. I like to do this because I’m cursed with a bad memory, so it’s got to be easy for me to remember.
Now I have to acknowledge three points here
- What I’m about to discuss is not my own set of techniques, it’s the brainchild of Kingsley Aikins and Edward Kelly
- I’ve heard both Ed and Kingsley talk about this subject but have never attended one of their courses
- I’m going to put my own slant on their techniques, during this blog post
What Networking Matters (now The Networking Institute) have achieved, I love; they have developed, an easy to remember, four step approach to – Networking Made Easy!
Step 1: Research, find out what type of person you need to engage and where to find the – Hang out where your potential customer s hang out
Step 2: Cultivation, by (a) communicating your knowledge and expertise (b) most importantly understanding their problem and whether you can deliver a valuable solution (c) building trust and establishing your integrity. When you meet them don’t think transaction, think relationship, if this relationship can work both ways, all the better.
Step 3: Solicitation; asking for the business and the only time to ask for the business is when you get a buying signal.
Step 4: Stewardship, mind the relationship, in other words start by delivering on what you said, communicate when it’s needed, be prepared to solve problems and value the relationship by continuing to nurture it.
Kingsley Aikins and Ed Kelly have some great takeaways on their website; here are some of my favourites;
“Networking is not an event but a process”
“Networking is not about what you know or who you know but is about who knows you and what they think of you”
“Networking is also easier for those with more social capital as it acts as a measure of trust and reciprocity in your network”
I will return to this topic with ‘stories from the trenches’