Here in Westchester NY there are many opportunities to make connections at the many networking events. Networking is a great way to build your business. But just like your other business processes, you need to have a networking process. You should have goals and measured outcomes. And here are a few examples of goal categories:
• Identify suspects (those who might become prospects with further qualification)
• Develop strategic alliances (sell things that compliment your product or service)
• Develop referral sources
• Develop and maintain relationships
• Interactively prospect
• Impact sales results
You can achieve greater results in your Westchester networking activity if you work on becoming a “center of influence”.
Here are three characteristics common to successful centers of influence.
The first is trust. Someone must trust you and must feel comfortable with you. So begin with building a relationship. Learn as much as you can about the other person and how you can help. Begin by honoring any promise made at the networking event. If you said you would call, then do so immediately, so the person does not forget the conversation or the event. Write down any pertinent facts and log them into your contact database. This will give you an excellent starting point in your next conversation with that person. The key to maintaining your network is being a person of integrity and value. You do this by following up and being the first to say thank you! By being a person of integrity, you immediately set yourself apart from others. By being helpful and an invaluable resource, you will make a positive impression and be sought after. I know you have heard the following statement before. To be an excellent networker, you must first give, in order to receive. Be open to others, and your business will flourish over time. If you do this regularly then you have met the trust requirement.
Second, how does their business relate to your business? There must be some basic commonalities between your business and the business of your strategic partner. Are you looking for the same types of customers? Do you offer complimentary but non-competing products or services? Do people that need your service often also need your strategic partner’s service? For example, a realtor would have a real estate attorney, a title company, mortgage company, home inspector, home stager, and so forth. If the answer to those questions is yes, then the potential center of influence may have passed the second test.
The third characteristic is enthusiasm. Perhaps you have seen groups that seem to have all the right people and yet nothing happens. No referrals are passed. There is no engagement—no energy. You need to promote your partners with positive words and attitudes. One networking guru has said that the best centers of influence are enthusiastic supporters of their referral partners.