You and I know Christmas is a once a year occurrence, but networking is a year-round endeavour, networking is something that should be done by everyone 365 days a year because networking is how you get ahead and stay ahead in business and in life.
Look at the maths: If on the basis that 98% of businesses rely on referrals to gain new business but that only 3% have a strategy for getting referrals, surely we’ve all missed a trick. Christmas is the one time when you’re probably more likely to meet people, go to social gatherings, attend more than one Christmas party and visit extended family – this is networking in its purest form.
‘Tis the season of giving.
Why December? Because in the spirit of the holiday we tend to remember the people we have forgotten all year long, and at this time of year we are not embarrassed to reach out to them to keep the relationship alive. Successful networkers know it is all about what you can do for others. After all, it is the season for giving. If you can offer a contact something they’re looking for, they’ll be more inclined to return the favour and word will spread quickly that you’re a good person to know.
Work is the last thing we want to think about over the Christmas period and a thought probably shared by many, but the principles of effective business networking teach us not to launch into ‘shop talk’ when networking, because effective networking for business is about the long-term, it is about building relationships, establishing trust and allowing people to know and understand the product or service you offer.
Have you got the L factor?
Likeability. Many business owners offer services which are no different to many other so what is your USP or your competitive advantage? It’s called likeability and trust – built through good business relationships and friendships. This is what will help you being remembered when someone is presented with the opportunity to give you a business referral. The most successful gurus in business networking, such as Dr Ivan Misner, would argue that people will only refer business to you if they like you. This demonstrates how important it is to build a rapport beforehand.
Prepare to follow up in the New Year
The end of the year is a busy season for everyone so if you meet someone it can be easy for best-laid plans in the New Year to be forgotten. Don’t let them! Thriving networking is all about making connections and following these through, so keep in touch, and make time and plan the 1-2-1’s so there’s no chance of forgetting to follow up in the New Year.
Networking is WORK! Don’t be fooled into thinking otherwise.
Networking is a skill and most people need some training before they perfect it. It is also a science. You should enjoy it, but to be effective you should be alert to opportunities at all times.
Enjoy your Christmas networking and the New Year is also a time for resolutions, so why not make your 2014 resolution one related to networking?
Thrive Networking – developing your connections for growth
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