via CBC Chicago : Business is all about connecting with other people. Networking is the vehicle to accomplish these connections, and follow-ups are the key to creating long-lasting business associates and customers. Whether an introvert or extrovert, networking skills are the foundation for starting, growing, and maintaining a successful business. These skills create an atmosphere of win-win with fellow business owners and entrepreneurs.
Attending events give opportunities to speak and connect with other business owners. The opportunities to network increases in a room full of business owners looking to connect with other businesses. It is a place where like-minded people gather, and are looking for opportunities to find new individuals to add to their network. As this business.com piece notes, this is a great place to hand-out business cards and brochures, connect with possible suppliers or customers, and become part of a larger community.
The best way to connect with people is to listen to their story and strive to understand it before sharing possible business solutions. Steven Covey stated it well in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” when he wrote, “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” People like to be acknowledged and understood. It makes for better business relationships to show a true interest in people, and contributes to future business relationships and customer referrals. Also, it helps clarify and define the direction to take a business, and gives light to current or upcoming trends. Proper listening and networking can help business owners understand areas in the market that need to be filled, as well as provide opportunities to add products or services to their business.
Following up with new network individuals or customers is part of the foundation of building a successful business. It creates more business opportunities, and shows interest. This is one of the easiest things to forget when business gets busy, but it is one of the most important steps in growing a business. Like listening, people like to be acknowledged and be part of a positive group. It benefits both parties in the exchange, and builds trust. Follow-ups could be a simple note or email. It acknowledges the connection, and solidifies the conversation.