Business Networking Tips: How to Turn Relationships into Revenue Streams
If you’re a proactive business owner or professional, you’ve placed that “Hi, my name is” sticker on your blazer. Networking at business events is more than cashing in your drink ticket, cruising the snack table and standing in a corner waiting for someone to introduce themselves.
Understanding the importance and history of networking will allow you to see the short-term and long-term benefits. Read on to learn more about our top business networking tips that’ll change the way you look at your next networking opportunity.
Our Favorite Business Networking Tips
Ancient History of Business Networking
The history of building relationships in new markets can be traced back to 3000 BC; being marked by the first long-distance trade between Mesopotamia and Pakistan. By traveling to new parts of the world, these entrepreneurs were able to build new relationships in hopes of selling and trading their products and services.
Live Science shares a great article that examines how ancient trade changed the world, “When the first civilizations [began] trading with each other about five thousand years ago, many of them got rich…and fast.”
Though the methods of trade have changed drastically over the millenniums, networking is a constant that remains vital to a business’s growth.
Reevaluate the Purpose of Business Networking
Some business owners may dread rubbing elbows with strangers and don’t really see the point of getting yet another business card. Other business owners may not see the long-term benefits of building a network with individuals who aren’t direct customers. SMB owners, especially, aren’t able to devote the time needed into building brand awareness at business networking events.
If you don’t make the time to network your business, it’s time you changed your ideas on the purpose of business networking. Networking events aren’t meant to act as a forum to directly sell your products and services. Reframe your personal purpose for attending the next tradeshow, convention or organized happy hour and focus on:
- • Finding professionals in an array of industries to build your network.
- • Specific fields or niches that compliment your products and/or services.
- • Making relationships with affluent people in your community.
- • Staying up-to-date with technological practices in your field.
- • Locating professional contacts that your current customer base needs or will need.
Every time you pass out a business card and every time you receive one is a step toward building a fruitful business opportunity. Start thinking of business cards as a form of currency that will mature later down the road.
The number one advice in our business networking tips is to realize why you’re networking in the first place. It’s not to immediately sell. It’s to build relationships and alliances amongst professionals that will later refer someone to you when the time is right.
Rules of Business Networking to Live By
We can cite dozens of business tips that’ll help you generate more revenue streams from building your network. But since time is money, we want to deliver just 4 simple, but highly effective rules to help you succeed at your next business networking event.
1. Business Networking is a Two-Way Street
When at a networking event, you have to constantly be on the lookout for how you can help the other person succeed in their goals. The professionals you network with will be more willing to help you grow your business if they feel you’re committed to helping them. Forget about establishing quid pro quo relationships and focus more on the laws of reciprocity to get the most out of business relationships.
Dr. Ivan Misner, Founder & Chief Visionary Officer of BNI, the world’s largest business networking organization, gives us a great definition of how to understand the law of reciprocity.
“Put simply, the law of reciprocity in networking means that by providing benefits (including referrals) to others, you will be creating strong networking relationships that will eventually bring benefits (especially referrals) to you, often in a very roundabout way rather than directly from the person you benefit. This makes the law of reciprocity an enormously powerful tool for growing your own business’s size and profitability.”
When meeting new people, humbly think about how you can help them find their next customer or opportunity and the karma of reciprocity will eventually catch up to a personal gain.
2. Listen More and Talk Less
“A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while he gets to know something.” – Wilson Mizner
In Scientific American’s article, The Neuroscience of Everybody’s Favorite Topic, we learned that speaking of one’s self is a favorable topic for most. People like to talk about themselves for so many reasons, but this article focuses on a brain’s physical responses to “I” or “me” talk.
The study’s results suggest that, “Self-disclosure—revealing personal information to others—produces the highest level of activation in neural regions associated with motivation and reward.” Use these findings to your advantage during your next business networking event.
Allow the other person to do more of the talking to leave them with a happy and positive impression after speaking with you. Need help developing better listening skills? Read Forbes article here that promises immediate improvements in your listening skills.
3. Detailed and Concise Elevator Pitch
Another very important addition to our business networking tips is developing the perfect elevator pitch to present at networking events. An elevator pitch, elevator speech or elevator statement allows you to showcase who you are and what value you bring in the span of 30 to 90 seconds.
The term comes from the idea of being in an elevator with a very important person. You have the opportunity to pitch this VIP in the time it takes you to reach their floor. At the end of the elevator ride, if you were succinct and persuasive enough, the pitch would result in the VIP wanting to know more.
Here are a series of questions to get you in the right track towards writing a memorable elevator pitch.
- • What do you do? What do you do best?
- • What problem(s) do you solve?
- • How do you solve the problem(s)?
- • What value(s) do you bring?
- • What makes you or your business unique?
- • Who is your ideal customer and/or target market?
ImprovAndy shares many examples of tailored elevator pitch scripts for you to review and borrow from.
4. Make a Commitment to Follow Up
Making an introduction and meeting interesting professionals is just step one of business networking. You have to make a solid commitment to follow up, preferably within 24 hours of your initial meeting.
Depending on the direction your conversation went, follow up via phone, email or social media friendship invitation. After meeting someone at a business networking event, make a note on their business card about your conversation. This will help jog your memory after meeting a dozen or more people at one event. Your attention to detail will speak volumes to the intended recipient; who will feel impressed that you remembered them so well.
To really benefit from the law of reciprocity, be sure to include one of the following to your new business affiliate:
- • A solid lead that fits their target market criteria
- • An introduction to an affluent professional in your existing network
- • A news story or tech development that your new affiliate can benefit from
- • An event invitation to a local business networking event they would enjoy
Happy Networking! We hope you enjoyed our Business Networking Tips!
We sincerely hope that these business networking tips give you fresh and unique perspectives for developing superior networking skills. If you have any tips or practices that have helped you succeed at networking events, please visit our Facebook Page and comment to continue the conversation socially.
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