Magazine article The CPA Journal

Successful Networking Is an Attitude

Magazine article The CPA Journal

Successful Networking Is an Attitude

Article excerpt

YOUR JOB IS TO GET OTHERS TO SEE YOU as someone who wants to help them, not sell to them.

Being successful at networking requires more than just a smile and a great database. Successful networking is a state of mind - an attitude. Even though networking is often defined as cultivating potential clients, the attitude that will lead to success is one of giving, rather than receiving.

The selfish networker. This person enters a room full of people and views everyone as a potential customer. Her conversation is slanted to selling whatever it is she does. She has success, but limited success, and has to interact with a lot of people to get any results.

The successful networker. This person enters a room and sees people who need to be connected with other people. Her conversation is geared to finding out what people need and then determining if she knows someone else who can provide it. If she is that person, so much the better. But the key is that she doesn't go into the situation with that end in mind.

Once this attitude is adopted, there are three steps needed to make networking pay off.

Process. Process refers to how and why you are networking. Determine the answers to the following questions:

Why am I networking?

Who will I be networking with?

What am I able to give?

What do I hope to gain?

When will I have the opportunity?

With these answers in mind, set goals for your networking, decide on a tracking system, and get your tools ready (business cards. brochures, contact lists for referrals).

Place. Open your mind to the endless possibilities. Anywhere there is another human being, there is the possibility of networking. Especially good locations are

chambers of commerce

professional conferences

social clubs and churches

networking groups

professional associations

alumni associations

charitable organizations.

A few months ago, I was in the lobby of a hotel waiting for the airport shuttle. As I waited, I noticed a lady lift a beautiful necklace from her shopping bag and admire her purchase. I said, "My, what a pretty necklace." I was returning from a conference I had attended and wasn't at all interested in networking. Those five little words proved to be some of the best networking I've done.

As we were loading our luggage, she asked me what I did. My spirits plummeted. I was tired from a long trip and didn't want to go into a sales mode, so I tried to be brief. "I'm a professional speaker," I said. "Oh really?" she exclaimed. "I come to these conferences looking for speakers for my company." My inner voice sighed. I didn't want to network now. …

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