In the world of business, networking is often seen as a necessary evil. But what if we shift our perspective and approach networking as an art form, one that requires emotional intelligence and strategic planning? In this blog, we’ll explore how to elevate your networking game by mastering the art of “Intelligent Asking.”
The Missing Link: Aligning Networking with Business Goals
Many business owners have a vague idea of what they want to achieve: more sales, more clients, and more profits. However, they often fail to align these goals with their networking strategies. Networking isn’t just about collecting business cards; it’s about building relationships that can help you achieve specific business objectives.
Practical Tools: Creating Clarity
1. Identify Profitable Industries: Know which industries bring you the most business.
2. Spot Your Ideal Clients: Look for clients who value your services and don’t drain your resources.
3. Leverage Your Network: Once you know your target, identify people in your network who can introduce you to potential clients.
The Power of Asking: A Real-World Example
Let’s consider Ted, an accountant specializing in healthcare. By identifying that both he and a social media agency excel in serving healthcare providers, they can collaborate to offer more comprehensive services to their clients. This synergy was only possible because they asked the right questions and knew exactly what they wanted.
The Favor Bank: Building Reciprocal Relationships
Networking isn’t a one-way street. If you’re asking for favors, be prepared to offer something in return. This reciprocal relationship is the cornerstone of emotionally intelligent networking. It’s not about immediate gains but about building a long-term relationship that benefits both parties.
Technique: Make Asking a Habit
Challenge yourself to get ten people to say ‘no’ to you every day for a month. This exercise not only helps you get comfortable with rejection but also opens up opportunities you might not have considered.
Redefining Success: From Taking to Giving
The old business adage that “nice guys finish last” is outdated. In today’s interconnected world, success is increasingly defined by how much value you can provide to others. This shift from a ‘taking’ to a ‘giving’ mindset is crucial for emotionally intelligent networking.
Example: The Circle of Influence
Being a member of industry associations like the Australian Hotels Association can offer networking opportunities that benefit multiple aspects of your business. This is an example of “networking out,” where one connection leads to multiple opportunities.
The Pitfalls of Not Asking
Fear of rejection or hearing the word ‘no’ often holds people back from asking for what they want. But not asking guarantees one outcome: you won’t get what you want. The key is to focus on building the relationship rather than fearing the ‘no.’
Technique: Asking, Asking, Always Multitasking!
Don’t limit your networking to business events. Whether you’re at a social gathering or even grocery shopping, opportunities for networking are everywhere. The more questions you ask, the more doors you open for yourself and others.
1. Create Clarity: Know what you want to achieve in your business and align your networking efforts accordingly.
2. Shift Your Mindset: Move from a ‘taking’ to a ‘giving’ mindset. Focus on how you can help others.
3. Don’t Fear the ‘No’: Embrace rejection as a part of the process. Each ‘no’ gets you closer to a ‘yes.’
Networking is more than just an exchange of business cards; it’s an exchange of value. By mastering the art of “Intelligent Asking,” you can transform your networking efforts from a dreaded task into a powerful tool for business success.