BBWO: BLACK BUSINESS WOMEN ONLINE

Women are starting businesses more than ever and women seem to attend a lot of networking meetings.  However, I wonder if women really know what it means to network and how powerful it can be?

I say this because many business women share with me that they often don't get return calls when trying to connect with the women they met at networking events and when they do, it's all about buy their product or join their company.  Now, there's nothing wrong with sharing information about your products or services, but a relationship should be established first.  Don't you think?

Networking shouldn't be just about getting business cards and looking for the sale right away.  It should be about helping one another, creating win-win relationships and asking yourself the question, "How can I contribute my expertise".  Not only does this help in building credibility, but it also shows your sincerity to participate and give as well as take.

 

So, I ask the question: What Does Business Networking Mean to You?

 

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Business Networking in my opinion means 5 simple steps: 1: The initial meeting.  How can I bless your business and how can you bless mine.  2: The follow up call for connect. 3: The closing of the sales or services  4: Referrals-who do you know that may also need my services and here are a few businesses that may need your services. 5: Follow up for customer service.   

Give all I have to offer. In doing this people are open to sharing their knowledge as well. Every little piece of viable information I find in my searching the web, I share in hopes of it benefiting someone.

For me networking is sharing info and looking at my business from another pair of eyes. The sales come when people like you and what you do. You are the brand whether you are using your name or a company name. You are on stage at all times. If people like you they will be a drum major for your business even if they themselves have never used your services. This is why its important to build your relationships, but more importantly your reputation. Your reputation is everything. Guard it with you life.

When you have nothing else keep your reputation as nosebleed high as you can. You're human and will screw up. Don't run from the situation. Own up to it, apologize for it, tell them and try to do better. More, importantly, you go to the person, tell them don't left them "hear it in the street". Last but not least RETURN PHONE CALLS/EMAILS, if  only to  say I can't help you or handle that at this time (Always leave the door open). You have just upped your credibility with that person. My rule is return all calls including ones from creditors within 48 hours. They know if that call is not returned I didn't get it or I'm unconscious. They will remember you and you'll be surprised at how willing they are to work with you. Why? Because you acted like an adult and owned up to the situation instead of running like a scared kid.

 

You want to be in business for the long haul, not the quick buck.

 

Michelle S. Hawkins

http://wirequeen.blogspot.com

http://facebook.com/MichelleS.Hawkins

 

 

I always tell my clients who turn their noses up at networking and think that it's only a card swapping event to look at networking in a different way. Networking is about building relationships; long-term relationships. You may not connect with that person right away professionally or to make a sale, but one never knows what may  happen down the road. I often give an example of a friend who lives in Atlanta, (I live in North Carolina) and they sent out a call for a local service. Because I make it a habit of networking EVERYWHERE I go, I was able to connect this person with a local business. What did I get out of it? A few months later, I found out the same person knew someone who provided a service that I needed. It was a win/win. But you have to remember, that you do not have to necessarily get anything out of it right away. Because of my desire to network every chance I get, I am now seen as the "go-to" person, which in turn brings more clients my way.

I view business networking as a extention of my overall marketing plan for my company and myself.  I frequent many events through out the month and engage in social media on a daily basis.  I think that the first foundation of networking is undestanding that business is a full circle - your business will not thrive if others businesses are not thriving i.e. your child daycare - daycare buys groceries - cashier at supermarket purchases your product or service.  Consequently I have formulated my business networking strategy around supporting others business.  I invite other to business groups, tweet details about their business on a weekly basis, invite them to post their business details on my company facebook page, request information for my company blog, and contribute to others newsletters.

 

When I I attend event - my strategy is straighforward - pass out 10-15 business cards and collect twice as many.  I imediately follow up the next day with a greeting email.  All of these things have resulted in clients for me and with the exception fo time they are FREE.  Remember networking is taking place even when you are not at the "traditonal" networking event.

Hey Trina:

 

This is a question everyone in Business Networking should consider before moving ahead in the industry. Why are you doing this in the first place?

 

My first take on this industry was to get as many people as I could to become clients. Then, the people involvement kicked in. Because I am a lover of people and want to see them prosper in their ventures, I found myself actually giving away a great deal of information. However in doing so, the response to my business was greater than I ever anticipated through referrals from the people I had helped get their businesses up and running or assisted them in starting a non-profit organization, and finding monetary and sponsorship benefits. It has been a true learning experience and I am grateful to everyone who nurtured me along the way. The Sistas I have connected with, all across the country I truly hold dear. In addition to all of this, I have been given some opportunities that I would not have realized otherwise. Know the people and the business and benefits will follow.

Ladies, I am so happy to see that you care about networking just as much as I do.  I must admit that even after 20+ years in business that I'm still learning.

I'd like to share a book that I read recently called, "Little Black Book of Connections" by Jeffrey Gitomer that is written wonderfully and explains the basics of building networking relationships.

Here are some of the things that I've promised to do when networking with others:

 

1)   Always be honest.  If I can't use a service or product at the time then say it.  However, share resources and other avenues that the individual can get in front of others.

 

2) Always go to networking meetings with the mindset to support, connect and help others.  Through blessing others, my blessing will come

 

3) Follow up with others I connect with within 24-48 hours. 

 

Please feel free to add to this list!

 

Wow - I thought of this book on when I first read your question - I have this book along with a few others that I use in my business. I write quotes from this book on our dry eraser board as guidance for my staff and myself.

Great idea! 

Thanks for sharing....

Trina,

Thank you for a great article.  I consider myself a connector, and a resource.  I would like people to think of me when they want to connect with someone or in need of a resource.

 

I'm always looking for ways to bring people together.  So I listen to what people have to say about their business or personal needs, then I go through my mind who do I know.  If I can't refer someone at that time, I keep my eyes and ears open.

 

So to make a long story short, I like to think of ways I can help others solve their problems.

 

I look at networking as a way to share what I have to offer in a way of serving and being a blessing.  I also believe that the people I network with may provide the same for me.  The mutual benefit may not always come in the form of a sell.  However, it could come in the form of support, joint ventures, connections to other people, information that you may have needed at that particular time, etc.  When I meet people and as I'm listening, I'm always asking myself how can I help, improve, or impact.
I agree with you antonina, i ask them their opinions and questions, or i look at what they are talking about and I give them my advice or opinion.

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