A lot of us will know someone who never seems to be without work or opportunities. I've met a few people like this. One friend in particular always managed to get himself into situations that proved advantageous. I noticed he was always making phone calls and receiving phone calls from people I wouldn't consider to be in his social circle of close friends. The more I think about, the more I realize I'm right. He was networking.
No, I don't mean Network Marketing in the sense of peddling opportunities like Amway or Watkins. He was staying in touch with people who were staying in touch with people, who were interested in what he had to offer.
I'm getting a much clearer picture of it since I downloaded Networking For Business by Gary Dunn. Although some of the information in this book isn't applicable to everyone, there are a lot of good tips in it. In a chapter of the book, Using Social Networks to Expand Your Business he talks about connecting with 11,000 first generation contacts through LinkedIn. We don't all have access to this amount of contacts, but at the same time, the book shows you how you can make up to nine new contacts per week.
I understand the importance of networking. I've been doing quite a bit of it myself. Business has slowed down some, so I'm finding that making new connections and re-establishing older acquaintances is proving beneficial. And I've been using my network to promote my business more. I ran across a saying a little while ago, that I remembered (which is a surprising task at this age), "If you don't ask, then the answer is no." No doubt, I've perturbed some folks, but if by connection they prove to be of no value, it doesn't really matter. You need to focus on the people who do matter.
Here is what Gary says about his book:
"This book is a combination of motivation and how to steps to network yourself to getting more business. Many people hear that networking is a way to grow your business but may not know why or how. I give you practical steps and advice on what to do to make networking work for you. I use stories, examples and just advice to help guide you during your journey as an entrepreneur. Some of this may be common knowledge for some of you. Other chapters may give you the 'aha moment" we all need at times. The book is designed to speak to you and inspire you to get up, get out there and make new opportunities everyday."
Of course to benefit from this book, you don't necessarily have to be an entrepreneur. You could be a musician looking for new opportunities. You might be someone who is looking for a job, or you might just be looking for a way to expand your current network.
In one chapter of the book, Gary says:
"Partnering with others can increase your business as well as theirs. Finding someone to share contacts and network with will mutually benefit both of you. This will provide each of you with a way to reach your sales goals without “cold calling.” Let's look at how this can work."
I don't think cold calling is a bad idea in some cases either. In the last month I've identified a couple of business leaders in a certain niche and called them up to chat. I didn't try and sell them on my services. I did some research to see if I could discover more about them. You see, when you know the particular achievements of someone else, and you ask them about it -- you've just 'broken the ice'. This may seem a little sad to sad, but it's human nature. Everyone's favorite topic "me". If you show a genuine interest --- and it has to be genuine -- people will love to have you listen, while they tell you about their successes. The funny part is, you don't have to say a thing about yourself; they will think you're a great fellow and automatically like you. If they like you and they have a need of services you offer, then there is a good chance they will hire you. People like to do business with people they like.
Was I successful with this strategy? I'd like to think so. In both cases, the gentlemen invited me to join their LinkedIn networks, so the door is "open" for further communication.
Networking For Business by Gary Dunn isn't written by someone who hasn't failed either. If you haven't failed in business, finding a job or failed in personal relationships, then you haven't done anything. Let's take a second to let that 'sink in' and read Gary's comments on this matter:
"It’s easy to be discouraged when business is slow. People may not be coming in or calling. Every once in a while, we come to that slow period when we ask ourselves, “is this all worth it?” I have come close to looking in the want ads and/or going to Monster.com to see what is out there. What usually happens just before I do, however, is a customer calls and I end up with a big project and things start to pick up again.
"This is both good and bad. The good is obviously that my business stays afloat and I am able to keep moving forward. The bad is that I let my pipeline get weak. That is the cardinal sin of being in business. Business depends on keeping your prospecting and marketing up at all times."
This is what happened to my business. For the last few years I had enough work to get by on. I turned down countless jobs when I could have hired people to do a lot of the work for me and at the same time, increased my network by staying in contact with more people. So I'm guilty of this cardinal sin. The same sin could be applied to someone who is looking for a job; once you have a job -- you make the mistake of not looking for a job. You should always be looking for better opportunities, and increasing your network size.
This book is being offered for free today as part of an Amazon promotion. Fortunately for me, my business is starting to grow again, but it is taking a lot of work, and a lot of connections. And if you're reading this and already doing well, it won't cost you a dime to add it to your library today. You might find yourself needing it later on. Read it now, so you know how to guard yourself against this type of sin.
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