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MDA Lending Solutions names John Walsh as New President of DataQuick Division

Aug 28, 2008

Networking is more than just handing out business cardsJim Donovannetworking, networking event, business card exchange, communication At a chamber of commerce business card exchange several years ago, a well-dressed woman walked up to me, business card in hand, and with perfect form, held the card in front of me and gestured for me to take it. I took the card from her and smiled. She then looked up and in a polite voice, said, "Thank you" and walked away. How sad. Here was an obviously well-intentioned woman who most likely owned an interesting business, but she had never learned what to do at a card exchange. Somewhere, she bought into the idea that you are supposed to hand out as many business cards as you can in as little time as possible. Clearly, this does nothing but waste business cardswhich is great for business card printers, but not so great for you. The other extreme is the person who spends their entire time at a card exchange talking to the same individual, sometimes even people from their own company. Again, this is quite unproductive. The purpose of a business card exchange is to meet new people in a pleasant atmosphere. While there are many good books to help you hone your networking skills, including Susan RoAne's "How to Work a Room," the essence of networking is quite simple. Businesses run on relationships. I've always felt that everything we do is about personal relationships, and developing a business is no different. Growing your business is about cultivating and nurturing relationships. Business card exchanges and similar networking events are really the starting point to begin what will hopefully become a mutually rewarding relationship. Since your time is limited, it is a good idea to spend only a short time speaking with people, especially those you already know. If you feel a resonance with someone you're talking to, make arrangements to follow-up your connection at a later date and move on to meet someone else. I'm sure the shy-looking person in the corner, who is probably there for the very first time, has something interesting to say. Why not go over and extend your hand? Another big (and frequent) mistake is approaching a networking meeting with a "me, me, me" attitude. A better approach is to learn about the other person first. You then have the option of explaining how what you do could benefit them. This establishes a stronger platform for communications because as speaking legend Zig Ziglar said, "You get what you want by helping other people get what they want." Care about the other person There are better ways to network and meet prospective business contacts. For openers, (no pun intended), people are more responsive if you first show some interest in them and what they do. There is an old cliché that says we have one mouth and two ears for a reason. If you listen more than you talk, you will automatically find that people are more interested in talking with you. Marketing guru Jay Abraham once said, "Discovery is the fuel of competitive advantage." Get curious. Become interested in other people and what makes them tick. Really care about the other person. If you take the time to investigate, you will find that even people who appear quite ordinary have a story to tell. If you show an interest in them and their lives, you will not only increase your chances of doing business with them, but you may gain a friend as well. How do you do that? Introduce yourself in a way that emphasizes the benefit of doing business with you. Saying, "Hi, my name is Mary and I'm a mortgage broker" is not very exciting. However, if you were to say, "My name is Mary and I help people buy their dream house." Or, after you've found out that the person you're talking with has built-up equity in real estate, you might say, "Hi, I'm Tom and I help people just like you learn how to maximize their real estate assets." Each of these introductions will cause the other person (if they are at all curious) to ask, "How do you do that?" At this point, you have opened the door for a further explanation or "commercial" for your business. You can then go on to explain the benefits of your services. As an exercise, devise three or four ways to introduce your business. Let each one focus on a different benefit of your product or service. Test each of them at your next networking event. Remember, people do not buy products or services; they buy benefits and solutions. The more you focus on communicating the benefits of using your services, the more you will benefit from the increase in business. Jim Donovan is an author, business consultant and speaker with more than 25 years of experience in business marketing and human performance. He may be reached at (215) 794-3826, via e-mail at [email protected] or visit
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