Choosing a name for this article was difficult because every one I came up with paled into insignificance beside the greatest title ever devised:
“How to Win Friends and Influence People.”
Dale Carnegie literally wrote the book on networking long before the skill even had a name.
That wonderful book has deservedly sold millions of copies worldwide, yet the skill of effective networking is still vastly underestimated.
There are seven magic words that every person in business should engrave on their hearts:
‘People do business with people they like.’
Networking, as it has come to be understood, is a two- part equation:
1. Expand your list of contacts.
2. Make each of your contacts your friend.
There is simply no point in knowing someone who hates you, or even has no opinion of you. You must have a positive connection. Nothing else will do.
To attract good fortune, spend a new penny on an old friend, share an old pleasure with a new friend and lift up the heart of a true friend by writing his name on the wings of a dragon. — Chinese Proverb
There are hundreds of little ways that you can be friendly and positive towards people. I have selected seven which I have proved time and again make a big difference.
1. Call someone up just to say hello.
We are all inundated with calls and emails from people who want something from us. It is the nature of this busy world we live in.
But sometimes it is wonderful to get a call from someone who just wants to say hello and asks how you are. Be that somebody. Make a point of NOT wanting anything.
2. Be the first to offer help.
Downsizing, redundancy and job loss is a fact of life. But how we react to other people’s misfortune makes a world of difference.
When you hear that someone you know, however slightly, is out of work, call them up and offer to help.
I was ‘downsized’ some years ago (it hurt) and I will never forget a man who called me up the very next morning and offered me a desk and a phone in his office any time I needed it, as a base for job hunting. I barely knew this guy, and I didn’t take him up on it, but his generous offer made him a hero in my eyes.
There are lots of ways you can offer people support – and one day they will be riding high again.
3. If you want a meeting, suggest coffee.
Or cakes, or cookies. There is something about informal eating that bonds people.
One of the most successful salespeople I have ever known often took a box of homemade cakes to her meetings. It broke the ice, showed she cared and made her very memorable – they were great cakes.
Business people don’t always want the formality or rigidity of lunch – especially with a new contact. But the idea of a 15 minute meeting in the local Starbucks is often an unthreatening and welcome alternative.
4. Personalize your business card.
We all give out and receive business cards, but how often do we really notice them?
Instead of just handing it out, pause, get out a good quality ink pen (image is important), and say something like “Let me save you the effort of fighting through switchboard and answering machines – I’ll write my cell phone number down so you can get hold of me easily.”
Or you can recommend a book or a movie and write it down on the back of your card.
It is personal, thoughtful and friendly.
5. Try to do two favors a week.
At least. Get into the habit of thinking how you can do favors for other people. If you know someone who is unhappy in their job, log that information in the back of your mind. When you hear that another company is looking for staff, put them together.
If you think of a simple way that two people you know can be mutually beneficial, act as middle man.
Don’t ask for, or expect any reward – that will come in time. But, both parties will be grateful and will remember your generous help.
6. Send greetings cards.
However important a person might be, they still find themselves fascinating. So show them that you do too. It has never been easier to remember birthdays, Thanksgiving, anniversaries, and all the dozens of personal times.
Don’t be afraid to ask someone when their birthday is. Write it down. Diarize it. And then make sure you send them a card. Or make it really simple, an e-card.
This tiny act of goodwill really pays dividends in the long run.
If a man does not make new acquaintances as he advances through life, he will soon find himself alone. A man should keep his friendships in constant repair. — Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784)
7. Keep in regular contact
Have a regular DIARIZED networking hour each week to make phone calls and send emails to your growing network. This is the time for the ‘hello how are you’ calls.
Naturally you don’t want to call everybody at the same fixed time each week – that would be too obvious. Rotate people around, but make sure you cover everybody at least once a month.
These ideas are not rules, but they are workable examples of some of the many ways you can ensure that when someone says ‘I do business with people I like’, they mean you.
Martin Avis is the author of the best-selling ‘Unlock the Secrets of Private Label eBooks’ – a complete blueprint to private label rights success. Visit http://www.plrsecrets.com to see how you can tap into this goldmine for yourself.