Ok, really. How tough can networking be? It involves TALKING to people and I talk to people every single day. Why do I constantly need to learn how to network? Why do I need to constantly develop networking skills? Why is it recommended that I participate in GROUPS that only have a focus on networking? It just can't be that tough.
Networking is a LEARNED skill. It involves developing strong relationship-building techniques. These are taught. Just like mathematical skills and verbal skills. It is a common misconception that you should "know" how to network. After all, it's believed, networking is not brain surgery or rocket science.
But that IS a misconception. Without constant exposure to new relationship-building ideas, without exposure to different people, and different communication styles, without training in the field of networking, a business professional would suffer from some serious business development challenges. These challenges included but are not limited to:
1. A lack of ability to get past "gate keepers". A very common way to get past gate-keepers is through a referral from someone the gate-keeper knows and respects. Without strong networking skills, a business professional will be unable to generate such referrals.
2. Once past them, a challenge with getting an appointment with a decision-maker. Here, without strong listening skills and precise presentation techniques, the busy decision-maker finds it easy to end a conversation before it's started.
3. Once an appointment is made, difficulty communicating features and benefits to your prospect. People relate to different styles of communication in different ways. Usually, someone likes to be related to in the same manner that they relate to others. To use a different style can not only cause a delay in the presentation process, but can actually lead to the termination of an otherwise mutually-beneficial business relationship just because the STYLE was offensive to the recipient.
4. Even if all the above can be handled successfully, a difficulty in closing the sale. In an ideal networking relationship, both parties are concerned with learning about each other so they can best help each other. This skill makes closing a sale easier, since you have learned how to best help your prospect and your prospect has learned how you can best help them. The close is much easier then.
Now, about participation in networking groups. Here, a group of like-minded individuals meet with common goals in mind- the over-all goal being increased business revenue for all participants.
Any readers interested in furthering THEIR Networking education may want to read a series of articles on the topic (including articles on Networking groups)that I have available by autoresponder. For a list of the titles of these articles, send a blank e-mail to:
mail to: email@example.com
An autoresponder will return a list of the available files WITH descriptions so you can continue YOUR networking education by choosing the articles that are of interest to you.