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The Importance of Networking

One of the biggest reasons people join a chamber of commerce is for what they will gain from the networking events. The Beach Chamber keeps its calendar full with numerous events throughout the year, giving its members and their guests multiple opportunities to meet new people and make new relationships.

In the field of Communications we talk about Tech vs. Touch:

  • How much do we communicate via technology (such as computers, email, social media, texting) vs. engaging with someone face-to-face?
  • Technology provides superb communications tools, but there is no substitute for a face-to-face…which is even better than a phone-call.
  • When is the last time you had to make a decision on choosing a doctor, a dentist, a haircutter, an attorney, a realtor? What did you base that decision on? Probably two things:
    • They came highly recommended from a reliable source; and/or
    • You had met them previously and already had an established bond.
    • It was probably NOT because of something you received in the mail or I your email In-Box.
    • People do business with people they know and like.

So what is the best way to Network?

Seven Habits of Highly Effective People – by Dr. Stephen Covey

1. Be proactive.
Take the first step…you make a point of crossing that crowded room to get to that person standing there all alone…or even that person who has a small line of people waiting to meet them.

2. Begin with the end in mind.
What are you trying to achieve with this meeting? Making a new friend? Establishing a possible business lead? Perhaps they have associates in THEIR sphere who are your target market? Why is it important to meet this person?

3. Put first things first.
Begin with a warm smile, extended hand, and “Hi, I’m Beth from the Beach Chamber…how are you doing?” Establish a connection. Details of your company, title and business can come later.

4. Think win/win.
It’s not all about what you will gain. What will THEY gain in meeting or talking to you? What can you do for them? Often a solid business relationships begins with being the first with the generous offer.

5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
Listen! Repeat the person’s name, and then repeat it again at the end. LISTEN to what they say! You can learn more from listening than speaking. Here is an excerpt from EnzineCommunication.com, on the art of listening:

Allowing the person to completely finish their thought before you begin to form a response is also crucial to good listening. To take it even one step further wait a moment before you begin to reply. This gives the other person a chance to add anything else they may have thought of. By waiting an additional moment before you reply you also let the other person know they have been heard completely. If you practice this for a time people will relax when conversing with you because they will know that they don’t have to rush to get their two cents in. They will appreciate the fact that they can communicate with you and be heard.

6. Synergize.
Tony Robbins had a name for a style active engagement; he called it “Mirroring and Mimicking.” What this refers to is completely getting on the same page as the person you are communicating with. Imitate their posture and body language. Using the same volume, cadence and pitch as theirs. Echo their vocabulary-style and word choices, as well as their accent. What happens is the other person subliminally feels comfortable and at-ease with you because you are “on their same page.”

7. Finally, Sharpen the saw.
After a few minutes of warming up, if you have time for a more profound conversation, go deeper! Maybe this will happen upon the next meeting, or the third or fourth. Once a rapport is established ask the more meaningful questions. Inquire about the details. Suggest future meetings and outings together. Another way to deepen the relationship is to start introducing them to YOUR associates.