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3 Keys to Not Suck at Networking

April 15, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 165

Last week I was fortunate to have been invited to address an audience at the Vienna-Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce trade show. A good portion of the more than 400 registered joined me for my session. One question that several attendees asked was about leveraging their network for business.

About a year ago, I joined a group named cadre. Cadre ( specifically tells its members that the purpose of the entity is to advocate for each other. In fact, direct solicitation is not permitted. By working to help others, we form strong advocates of remarkable individuals. The reality is that the 100 people in the network have reach into thousands of potential clients. The value of the network quickly became clear as a source for remarkable individuals. Without soliciting, I have paid and been paid for services by and for other members. Each of these business transactions was in the context of one of us helping another instead of someone giving their "pitch" to an unwilling recipient. I initially evaluated the group using the most common flaw I see in networking. Namely, participants often overlook the strength and reach of the network. If they join a network of 100 people, they think to themselves "how many of these 100 people could I see as my clients?" In reality, my fellow members are connected many thousands of the top leaders in business and government.

Here are three keys to successful networking:

1) Value the Network, not the Nodes

Avoid being the person in the networking group who everyone wants to avoid. Rather, see how you can work with your network to add value and help them discover where you can be remarkable. Give freely of your time (not to be confused with giving free consulting). When you start looking at how you can build advocates instead of pitching your services or products to others, you'll deliver value. It's amazing how much more business you sell when you are not trying to sell.

2) Advocate for each other

Your first goal should be to help other members of your network. You will quickly identify those who are only seeking the one-way, selfish street. Once you develop advocates, at networking events, agree to advocate for one another. Instead of you telling someone how great you are, let your advocate say to others "do you know Sally? If you are in XYZ field, you have to meet Sally. Let me make the introduction." This way, neither of you is tooting your own horn. The important part here is to be genuine. You can only advocate for someone if you believe in them. Otherwise, everyone will see through it and it just becomes a deceptive tactic.

3) Be specific

Be sure that your advocates know a) what defines your ideal client; b) how and where you can help others; and c) what specifically you are looking for. Play nicely in the sandbox with the other members. What I mean is that you should be specific about your niche. Even if your firm does many things, focus on the areas where you bring unique capabilities. You are not the only fish in the pond. Be considerate of others.

If you value the broader network, advocate for each other, and follow these simple steps, you might become outrageously successful targeting and winning business.

About the Author

Ian Altman is a keynote speaker at business conferences about reversing the buyer-seller dynamic for professional services, business services, and technology companies selling to businesses and government. Discover how to become outrageously successful targeting and winning business. You can subscribe to his blog and learn more at

Source: EzineArticles
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