Habit #1 – Be Proactive
Focus on what you can control and influence. In a networking environment, you can control what type of business partners are in the group by inviting them to join you. Make sure you have Power Partners in your group that can easily provide you referrals as the nature of their business ties in with yours.
Habit #2 – Begin with the End in Mind
Define clear and measures of success and plan to achieve them. You need to be able to know what you are seeking to gain out of your business networking activities. If all you want is to socialize, you are probably in the wrong place. You want to grow your business. By how much? Over what period of time? Set goals and let your networking cohorts know what you are trying to achieve.
Habit #3 – Put First Things First
Prioritize and achieve your most important goals instead of reacting to urgency. While you may think your most important goal is “getting new business”, you are wrong. Effective business networking requires building relationships with these networking partners, you need to “Give” first. You need to “Give” them and education in your business; you need to “Give” them examples of how to sell you; and you need to “Give” them business referrals. Don’t forget, the winning strategy in business networking is “Give, Get, Grow…Repeat”TM
Habit #4 – Think Win-Win
Collaborate more effectively by building high-trust relationships. Don’t just show up on a weekly basis to your networking group and think that you are doing your job. Set up 1:1’s with at least one member per week or month to get to know them and their business. A high-trust relationship is just that, it’s a relationship.
Habit #5 – Seek first to understand, then to be understood
Influence others by building a deep understanding of their needs and perspectives. Get involved in a committee or a team in your networking group so that you gain a better perspective of what the group needs.
Habit #6 – Synergize
Develop innovative solutions that satisfy stakeholders. Your effective business networking group will have a structure to keep the meetings flowing and focused on business, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t help them find new solutions for how to pass more referrals or grow the group. Spend time each quarter brainstorming with the group to put it on a continuous path to improvement.
Habit #7 – Sharpen the Saw
Make time to build your energy and renew your balance. Don’t forget to have fun. If you are going to have lasting relationships with these business partners to grow each other’s businesses, then make sure that there is time for socializing added outside your normal meeting schedule. The same way you build teamwork at your company.