Networking to grow your business is critical. But for many, networking is something that is a chore rather than a must-do activity.
Understanding your networking personality and that of others can be the key to your success. Attending functions around Australia I have noticed that there are six distinct networking styles. Identifying these and who you are dealing with can help you grow your business. Which one are you?
The Socialite Networker
Socialites love to attend events and can be relied upon to lighten up any occasion. They seek out the person standing at an event on their own and include them in their conversations. These are great people to meet if you are fearful of attending an event on your own. If you are a socialite you run the danger of spending too much time socialising and leave little time for yourself to do the things you must do, often resulting in time pressure and unfinished business. Time must become your friend not your enemy.
The Serial Networker
The serial is known to rush around collecting cards and making quick ‘friends’. They rarely give you a chance to talk or catch your breath, are a whirlwind of information and have a database that reads like a business who’s who directory. For those that don’t like attending events, meeting the ‘serial’ is their worst nightmare. The serial can appear overbearing and pushy even though this is not usually the case. Serials – be aware not everyone is on board as quick as you.
The Networking Initiator
The initiator is well connected, has strong business relationships and will connect you for a common purpose that benefits all. They see opportunity and follow up immediately. Their ability to cut through the red tape, clear the clutter of thinking and to take action assists in initiating change, action and results.
They are resourceful and if they don’t know it, someone they know will. Take care not to waste their time as they become frustrated easily with people who do not follow through on what they say. They operate with a ‘what you see is what you get’ attitude.
The Occasional Networker
Unfortunately this is the most common type of small business owner. They network occasionally because they need to, either business is slow or they feel a need to seek opinion, ideas, social interaction or business. Typically they attend an event, make contacts, exchange business cards but don’t follow up. They rarely get business from networking so see it as a last resort rather than a must-do part of their business.
The Balanced Networker
The balanced are consistent with their actions, follow up when they meet people, see opportunities, connect people and give without expectation. They understand the true value of networking. Importantly, they plan their networking activities, they know each day who they will call, each week what events they will attend and who they will follow up with. They are never short of business and are happy to refer their ‘networking friends’.
The Inactive Networker
These people think networking is a waste of time, are fearful others will reject them or they are just way too busy or lazy to network. If this is you and you want to grow your small business… NETWORK!!! It won’t kill you; in fact you never know what it might bring!
The most important aspect of small business growth is to network – create connections, build relationships and follow up with the people you meet. You will come across many people in your lifetime – even if they are not useful to you at the time, you never know what is around the corner or who they know!
-Sue Henry (www.suehenry.biz) is an Australian networking expert and author of Network or Perish. She is in demand as a public speaker, motivator and small business expert.