Thu, 07 Dec 2017
If you dread the thought of approaching strangers to grow your business, focus on how you can add value to others.
Networking is vital for entrepreneurs if they are to grow their businesses.
Unfortunately, many people feel uncomfortable approaching strangers.
Here the experts provide some tips on how to emerge from your shell and expand your influence.
Building social networks may sound easy, but a host of skills is necessary to do so.
Many business owners find the thought of “networking” quite daunting.
Some shy away from it altogether and hide behind the excuse that they are introverts.
TJ Malamule, professional speaker and brand and business strategist, says networking is every entrepreneur’s currency.
“The saying goes that your network equals your net worth,” he says.
You could be offering the best product or service, but if you cannot connect with people, they will not buy it.
People do business with those they like and who make an impression on them. They find you “worthy” to be in their network.
The more you network, the more you create opportunities for people to do business with you, he says.
Asanda Gcoyi, CEO of CB Talent, says networking is interaction with a purpose. It is about building relationships that become useful later.
Impressions count and when people meet face-to-face in an informal environment, such as business lunches or at meetings organised by business groups, they are able to form such an impression.
“We tend to think that building relationships or networking depends on whether we are introverts or extroverts. For me, it is all about being a person of value. In whatever you do, you need to be valuable,” she says.
What you can offer is of importance, not whether you are an introvert or extrovert.
The question you need to ask is why you need to build a network.
“If you are unable to answer this, your efforts will be wasted, no matter whether you are an introvert or extrovert,” says Gcoyi.
Malamule says networking is about serving and not selling.
People are tired of having things sold to them, but they are quite happy to receive anyone who is ready to serve them.
“Every business is supposed to be serving in order to make profit,” he says.
How to network
Powerful business networkers hook people by identifying what it is the network needs.
They position themselves as a solution to satisfy the need, he explains.
“Think about it like your first date. You certainly do not start talking about all your achievements if you want the second date. You have to show you are genuinely interested in them for them to be interested in you,” Malamule says.
It is important to be approachable, sincere, authentic and polite.
Gcoyi says naturally charming people find it easier to network.
“Not everyone can naturally be a good networker. Simply dishing out business cards at events to anyone who is willing to take them is really meaningless.”
One of the best traits of an introvert is their ability to listen. Use it.
It is important to make eye contact and ask open-ended questions that allow the conversation to flow.
Be conscious about the person in [...]