“The richest people in the world look for and build networks everyone else looks for work.”
When I first began business, I was terrible at networking. I wasn’t really connect to it at all, I just went through the paces, did what I needed to do then getting out as fast as I could. It could have been that when I began business it was not in my chosen field. I was connecting with people I really had little in common with.
And then a friend put it all into a language I could relate to and said something that I will never forget. Networking is a little like exercise: You know it’s good for you and you probably should be doing more of it, and yet, most often you just don’t feel like it. That was so true! This stuck with me and it wasn’t until I began my own coaching business that this really hit home for me. Networking can be hard, nerve wracking, expensive and time-consuming. AND, it can also open to you otherwise unavailable business opportunities and ultimately provide you with the tools you need to find success in fields beyond your business and have you stand out in your field of expertise.
Networking since then has been my number one source of business. Having been a member of BNI (Business Networking International) for many years in Wellington NZ, I have no doubt that I can attribute the successful start of my business coaching and training company to networks created through BNI weekly meetings. Financial benefits aside, I have made lifelong friends through BNI. I have been introduced to businesses I never knew existed. I have been educated in so many different areas of business. Even here in China, we continue to receive referrals and assistance from our extended networks and are able to help different ones even though we have now been gone from NZ for over five years.
Networking sounds very strategic and on different levels it is and yet put it simply its all about getting off your backside, getting out there and meeting people, all different kinds of people. It’s about connecting. It’s about creating connection. This has been brought hoe to us in the success we are having in an entirely different culture, based on the same principles that helped us create and expand our businesses throughout New Zealand – building new networks. While networking as we know it is a new concept here in China, I remain a firm believer that no matter where you live, meeting people will be the foundation of your success in business. Here it has opened doors for employment, apartments to rent, health benefits and opening up opportunities to new partnerships to extend business globally. Networking to me now, is more of a life skill, rather than something you do for business or when you want something.
Now, taking business in a new direction we are learning the value of networking on line. What a learning curve! Again, networking has taken on a whole new meaning for me, in this new age of the internet. Even here where access to the rest of the world can be inconsistent, to say the least, with email, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, WeChat (China) and many many more, we’ve got more tools and options for creating valuable connections, today, more than ever before.
So if you want to grow your business and have greater success have a look at your networks. Find groups and people you are comfortable with and enjoy being around. Get to know them more. You need to feel comfortable enough to recommend them and you want to be able to build reciprocal relationships with them. And don’t just follow the crowd, try different groups and organisations, that work best for you.
Finally, a couple of tips I think are so important when networking:
- LISTEN – constantly work on your listening skills – master networkers look beyond the words.
- ASK – don’t be afraid to ask questions or clarify details – master networkers readily admit that they do not know everything, there is always more to learn and other people will have the information that you need.
- EVERYBODY – my favourite! NOBODY is a NOBODY – master networkers know that everyone is connected to other people, that everyone is a SOMEBODY!
And remember not everyone will like you … and that’s OK. Master networkers acknowledge it, accept it and move on – after all, there’s enough room in this world for everyone!
So, how are you growing your networks? How does networking work for you?
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