Networking: Dating for Business

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By Allison Turner Business, Marketing & Sales Consultant Networking is nothing more than dating for business or relationship building! You never know if the person you initially meet could be a customer or know someone who is the perfect fit. I still run into people who have networking all wrong. They want instant business. Have you ever been to a networking event, where a person goes around the room and hands everyone a business card without even saying hello? The first thing I do? Throw away that card because that individual is all about himself or herself and not about building the business relationship. As a member of the Delray Beach Chamber leads group, Positive Enrichment for Professionals (PEP), I recently had an in-depth discussion with the group on Networking and Relationship Building. Several valuable points came out of that discussion. 1. Networking is dating: Whether you are married, with a partner, or starting a relationship, think about how you began; you got to know each other. Did you have similar interests? How did you get along? Were both of you invested in the relationship? Networking is no different. Maybe there is less time put into building the relationship but the process is similar. 2. Networking is getting to know people: Do more listening than talking or as one person in PEP put it, “Be interested and not interesting.” 3. Assume every person you meet is your ideal customer: I always like to remember the theory, 6 Degrees of Separation, when networking. You never know whom you are talking with when you first meet someone so assume that they might be the perfect client or the person to introduce you to the perfect client. 4. Come from a service mentality: As a Chamber Ambassador and a business owner, when I meet someone new, I always approach our meeting from the standpoint of how can I be of service to that person and business. Who can I connect them with to further their business? What suggestions might I provide to them that might help take their business to the next level? 5. Follow Up: One of the very simple things to do that many overlook is follow up. When you meet someone, always follow up. I often like to initially follow up with a brief email, always adding something that I learned about the person or their business in the email so it has that personal touch. Then I may ask to get together for coffee to get to know them better. 6. Build your business for the long term: Relationship building takes time! Sometimes you can hit it off with a potential client and make that big sale right away. If you are out consistently networking in the community, your reputation may speak for itself. Always know that networking and relationship building does take time. Ultimately, people do business with whom they know like and trust! Networking is not a science but it is similar to dating! Like developing any friendship or long-term relationship, it takes time and patience. You never know if the person you are speaking with is the one or they know someone who knows someone. As you attend different networking events, build long-term relationships and see how your business continues to grow and expand. Allison Turner is CEO and cofounder of Business Consultants of South Florida,(BCoSF, Inc.) located at 301 W Atlantic Avenue, Suite 05. She is a resident of Delray Beach as well as active member of the Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce. BCoSF is passionate about helping their clients either start or grow a sustainable and profitable business. For more information visit www.BCoSF.com or call 561-276-4422