Business networking isn’t rocket science. It is a simple process that you can repeat as many times as you want to build new relationships. Below, I have prepared the order of business networking operations for you to get into the routine and improve your business networking performance. Keep in mind, you are not required to complete all steps, but the further you can go through the steps with new contacts, the more successful and rewarding you will find your business relationships to be.
1 – Make an acquaintance
Introduce yourself to a new contact. This can be a fairly quick step to take. If you attend groups, meetings, or venture out into your local business district, you are bound to come across people you do not currently know. Be a friendly person that isn’t shy of others, just to make a quick introduction and possibly share contact information. This may not sound like a valuable step to take, but it can be incredibly valuable in time.
2 – Start a conversation or ask a question
If you know an interest of your contact, you can start a conversation by stating an opinion or sharing your experiences in relation to a topic on the interest. Depending on your contact’s level of interest, they will be happy to discussion the subject with you, sometimes at length. You can also ask engaging questions about your contacts skills, products and services, and interests, but be genuine in your asking and be prepared for a genuine answer. This can be a chance to skip a few steps ahead in the Order of Business Networking Operations to #5, Listen To A Story.
3 – Answer a question (Provide Value)
Providing value is a critical step in building a genuine relationship with a contact. They best way to provide value is to know when the opportunity is presented. This will most likely be when your contact reaches out to you with a question. Consider this a chance to provide free consulting or give a quick answer to help steer your contact towards the answer. It could also be a chance to introduce your contact to another contact, letting you take a few steps ahead to Order of Business Networking Operations step #7, Refer a prospect/Receive a prospect.
4 – Invite for coffee or lunch
Meeting over coffee is a low cost way of getting to know your contact better. It may as well be the best way! Coffee is often served early in the day, before other business and distractions get in the way. Having a great meeting with a fresh contact can leave them thinking of you all day. Lunch can work as well, but having food in front of you can cause a LOT of distraction, and occasionally embarrassment if things get messy. Either way, when it comes time to pay the bill, be the one to make the payment. It looks good on you, especially when you made the invitation to meet. Also, keep in mind that coffee is far less costly than a meal.
5 – Listen to a story
Whether it is over coffee or over the phone, sometimes people just want to be heard. By lending a friendly ear, you can help your contact share a triumph or a tragedy. When you can be a real friend, your genuine value comes through loud and clear. You don’t need to have an answer, or challenge their reasoning, or be a “one-upper”, you just need to listen and be agreeable. People respect those who listen. It is your time to learn about the contact, what they value, and possibly how you can be of value to them.
6 – Ask for a Like or Follow
If you are confident on your delivery of value to your contact, ask for something simple in return. The best low risk, low value ask to make is for a Facebook like. Just one Like won’t make all that much difference, but each one you get adds up. Not only can you use Facebook Likes for social media marketing benefits, but also for determining the value impact you are making within your business community. (If you’ve found value here, make sure to like Mediaryte on Facebook!)
7.1 – Refer a prospect/Receive a prospect
Remember when your contact was just an acquaintance? Being able to refer business is where you can use your contacts to help other contacts, essentially becoming a business networking hub of connection making. When you meet new people and learn who they are, you naturally associate them with a value. Each contact may have a skill value, such as a professional services person or trades person, and they will have additional value beyond their skill in the form of connection value. This is very important to keep in mind, no matter who you may meet. Always be on the lookout for connection opportunities you can make for your contacts.
7.2 – Refer a warm lead/Receive a warm lead
Going a step further to referring a prospective contact, is to give a contact a true business lead. A warm business lead is where you know of or have created a business opportunity for a contact. This can come from using your existing business to introduce your contact’s services or by word-of-mouth marketing. When you identify an opportunity for a contact, make sure to ask if the opportunity is the type of business they want. If so, you can then speak to the contact with the opportunity to make the connection. If not, then you can seek out a new contact who may be able to help.
8.1 – Ask for business/sale
When the time is right and the frame is set, you will know when to ask for a sale. However, if you’ve done well in the previous steps, you won’t make it to step #9 before gaining new business. Building great business relationships results in you naturally getting the business over time. You are seen as the authority in your industry by your contacts, who value your skills and personal character, just by simply being a person who gives and shares value.
8.2 – Ask for feedback, reviews, and testimonials
Finally, after delivery of your products or services and providing a great customer experience, be ready to ask your contact for feedback, a review, or a testimonial of their experience. A satisfied customer will be delighted to share their experience, as well as an unhappy customer. Either way, getting insight from your customer is a powerful method of understanding how well your business delivers or how it needs to improve.
Bonus – Create a fellowship
The more you work with your contacts, building value and trust, the more shared opportunities you will find. This can create a referral fellowship, which is a group of 2 or more contacts that can easily refer business together and remains exclusive, as long as there can exist a high level of loyalty to each other. It goes beyond having a contact you can know, like, and trust, but to have a group of contacts you completely count on for specific needs and values in business and beyond.
Get in the flow of business networking
Now that you know the order in which you can build a relationship through giving value, it is time for you to get out there and do it! The hardest step in meeting new people is always the first step. Once you can get through an introduction, everything gets much easier from that point forward. You will also find it easier to meet new people and make contacts the more often you do it.
Never stop meeting new people, building new relationships, and keeping relationships going through simple communication and touch points from time to time. Even the oldest and most out-of-touch relationships can come back to surprise you.
Which step in business networking operations do you find most difficult?
Leave your answer and feedback in the comments section below.
Share this Post