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Networking, Listening And Missed Opportunities

Apr 27, 2008
When you have been out at a networking event have you ever been so wrapped up in what you have to say and concentrating on promoting your business that that you have stopped listening and miss valuable opportunities. Or have you found yourself making quick judgments about people which have closed your mind to what they are saying or, do you find yourself in fear of competition so avoid talking to those whose businesses are similar to your own?

If the answer is yes you could be severely reducing your opportunities and doing you and your business a huge disservice.

Recently at a major entrepreneurial networking event in London I was party to a classic case of missed opportunity.

I was participating in a group discussion about what we wanted to be no.1 at and I mentioned my networking site, explaining it was a website of resources to help business people get the most of their networking activities. Another participant then said she ran some networking groups and was going to expand into another area, geographically far removed from her current base, but which coincidentally happened to be my own. Seeing an obvious link I immediately said that I could perhaps help her and was immediately met with the response 'I don't need your help' and the conversation brought abruptly to a halt.

Needless to say I was taken aback by this response (and judging by the looks on the faces of fellow participants I wasn't the only one) - this person had never met me before, had not spoken with me and had absolutely no idea how I could genuinely help her.

What she didn't know was that I could possibly help her in three significant ways:

Since the territory she wanted to expand into is where I already have a number of well established networking groups and a major network of contacts I would be able to spread the word about her groups. Since her groups appeared to be complementarity to my own I could see a huge opportunity for a potential strategic alliance bringing benefit to both businesses.

I was also prepared to share with her my own experiences and key contacts to help her decide where the best opportunities may be And I would also have offered her a page on my website at no cost devoted to promoting her organisation and groups.

What I found particularly ironic was the fact that one of the key messages of the event was about creating links with other business people, offering and taking advantage of opportunities and promoting an ethos of helping others. And what is probably even more ironic is that as a fellow networking professional who runs groups and provides networking training shouldn't she have known better?

There are many business networking techniques you should consider to help you network more effectively however the tips to take from this example are:

1. Be open to what someone has to say and don't make assumptions about how someone can or can't help you until you have listened.

2. If someone offers help thank them for the offer. You might decide there is no scope for taking discussions further however at least show your appreciation for their offer of help.

3. Don't assume that everyone is out there to 'sell' you something - most people like to help.

4. View related businesses, not as competition to be avoided, but as potential strategic partners who with you can help rather than hinder your business.
About the Author
Passionate networker Louise Yates shares business networking techniques and advice for word of mouth marketing, generating referrals and sales leads together with executive coaching information for business performance, life and career development.
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