The Art of Networking
A Small Investment for a Big Return
NETWORKING: The definition used most often is the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups or institutions. More specifically, it is the cultivation of PRODUCTIVE relationships for business or employment.
Networking has been an essential tool for survival since the beginning of time. We, humansall thrive on interaction with one another. Listed below are five key reasons that such a practice can only bring positive and successful results.
OPPORTUNITIES: Every time you leave the house, you have a chance to meet interesting people. You never know who you will meet, and where. I recently accompanied my daughter to a physician visit for a torn ACL (knee injury). While waiting to see the doctor, I engaged the nurse in a conversation and told her I was a manager of a Day Spa. She said she was looking for a good massage therapist. I pulled out my cell phone and booked her an appointment on the spot! Opportunities are everywhere, no mater the industry. It may be hospitals, community groups or as simple as your own contacts.
EXPOSURE: The more people that know what you do, the better. You must also take into account that your customer, fan base, etc. can and will communicate to others outside your circle, thus giving you more and more exposure. The numbers of people who know about you will grow and grow! I was recently at a new neighbor’s house for a get-together. In the process of getting to know one another, I told everyone I was a manager of a Day Spa. The hostess said she had been looking for a new stylist since moving here. She came in a week later, and loved her hair. Two weeks after that, she sent her father in to purchase a $250.00 gift certificate for her mother! Soon after that, her sister-in-law came into the salon! This is not the time to be shy; tell everyone you meet what you do and why it would benefit them.
CONTACTS AND RELATIONSHIPS: People like to do business with people they like. Often, that is all that separates you from your competitor. Over the past ten years, I have been involved with many professional networking groups. At holiday time, a member of one of these groups told me she would like to purchase several gift certificates for her staff. Although she had never been to our salon, she said she always enjoyed talking to me at meetings, and said she had a good “vibe” about me. She explained that she had spoken with several other members of the group who were clients, and they sang our praises! We successfully integrated exposure, relationships and excellent word-of-mouth.
COMMON GROUND: It is a proven fact, that we all enjoy the company of those who are like-minded. Common interests make it easier for people to come together. One of your most important objectives when making new contacts is to determine those areas which you have in common. The most successful way of doing that is by focusing on them and their interests. Ask questions that help your new acquaintances to open up and talk about themselves.