You’ve all heard about it, some of you have done it, many have looked at doing it, and others just don’t know how to start doing it. And some of you have done it so much that it just doesn’t do it for you anymore!
It’s called networking.
It’s one of those words that you hear in business over and over again, day in and day out. It’s used, abused and sometimes even used to amuse. But through all of its iterations so many people really do not understand its true meaning. Or for that matter, its true value in business.
It’s like some of those other ‘business words’ you use but really don’t know why. Words like benchmarking, leverage, optimisation, and futureproofing. The terms you hear consultants say are presented as very complicated in an effort to convince you that you’d need their help to understand how they work.
We’ll I’m here to tell you, it’s just not that hard!
So, let’s put this into perspective for you and maybe give the word some meaning in your business and as a result remove the complication. Let’s provide you some sort of a path or plan to make networking more effective in your business in 2009.
I believe that in business there are two types of networking: internal and external. In order to effectively create a business network it’s important to combine both networks to give you maximum impact.
The internal network.
Too often in business we forget to use the internal network we’ve created; a network that exists through the staff we have employed and the lives they lead outside of the business environment.
Each and every person that works with you has a life outside of the business. And unless you tap into, show interest, and understand that life you are missing out on the networking opportunities it may deliver to the business.
Now I am not for one minute suggesting that you want your staff to work for you, or think about working for you, 24/7. What I am suggesting is that by simply understanding their lives and their personal interest you might be able to fulfil the needs of both parties and in turn create a great opportunity to not only network the business, but to add value to everyone’s lives.
Let me give you an example.
Sally, your receptionist, has worked with you for two years. She’s a great asset to the team and a fantastic ambassador for the business. Through talking to her over coffee you realise that she plays tennis on Saturdays, is a keen supporter of the hockey club where her boyfriend plays on Sundays and she helps out in the community through her involvement in the local church charity.
Armed with this knowledge you’re now in a position to add value to her life while adding three new networks to your business.
What can you do to help her with a sponsorship for her tennis club, or a fundraising event that might help them with a particular piece of equipment they are looking to buy? By doing this you are making her look like a hero to her team mates and in turn adding value to her life, while also getting a direct line into the tennis community network of members and players to promote your business. It’s a win-win.