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Swimming with the sharks

Nicole Dyer Griffith MA Thursday, July 6 2017

The art of business networking is a very useful tool to develop, particularly if one chooses to utilize this skill as a part of one’s personal development toolkit. Business networking is the leveraging of relationships to develop your business prospects.

The opportunities that can be derived from developing strong business relationships during the networking process are immeasurable once the process is purpose-driven, authentic and value-added to all parties involved.

In Trinidad and Tobago, the networking process is almost intrinsic to our personalities. This, as evidenced by the many varied opportunities we have developed to create the networking platforms. I am certain many of you can attest to having created the best business opportunities on a Friday evening lime, or at an all-inclusive event, prior to the late evening increased alcohol intake.

Such opportunities for networking are boundless, and can provide the atmosphere for incredible business potential, including referrals, business leads, increased personal profile, increased business connections, and sound business advice among other areas.

This being stated, I started this article with the word art, as the networking process indeed requires a measure of clever interaction to advance your agenda, as the wrong process used has the potential to cripple your networking and business possibilities almost with immediate effect. A few weeks ago, I was invited to a social event, with many ‘captains of industry,’ and other similar personalities. At this event, a young man, obviously fresh to the industry setting, thought it would be a great idea to canvass as many of these business persons as possible. His modus operandi was clear from the get go, as I viewed him identifying his target, circling at least two to three times, before interjecting himself either into the conversation circle his potential target was stationed, or placing himself in the proximity of same.

Whilst observing this process, I took mental notes of the do’s and don’ts for business networking based on his interactions. On the positive side, he was clear, mission-oriented and focussed on the outcome he sought.

His personal presentation was impeccable and his courage to ‘swim with the sharks’ was certainly noteworthy. On the other side, he gave the impression of being overly aggressive, bordering on obnoxious, and clearly did not understand the art of becoming part of a conversation, as he simply positioned himself and jumped into conversations – without first being introduced by anyone.

Business networking provides a wonderful opportunity once conducted in the right manner.

The first step is to choose the right opportunities to attend for your networking potential. Face-to-face networking remains one of the best ways to build effective networking potential. In addition to the many possibilities presented, it may be useful to peruse social media sites for potential networking opportunities that may be in line with your strategy.

Once you have identified the right opportunity, it is important to be prepared. Being prepared includes, knowing the ‘how to’ as it pertains to the process of introductions, versus interruptions.

The brash young man, of whom I spoke, clearly did not appreciate this difference, as his interventions were being construed as simply interrupting other people’s conversations.

It is a good lesson to attend your networking event with someone who may be already connected to the event, or its attendees. It is never a good idea to intrude into a conversation uninvited. If, however, you are introduced into the conversation, this is your opportunity to begin by developing a relationship with those whom you interact BEFORE launching into your sales pitch.

The most important aspect of the introductory conversation is to develop the relationship..



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