By James Lowry | March 8, 2012

Networking is essential for anyone interested in generating new business. Salespeople are constantly building rapport with their customers and expanding their network of contacts. Let’s review some of the keys to networking successfully:

Show sincere interest in people you meet. Sincerely find out what their needs are and discuss any concerns they might have. Building a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship requires a solid foundation.

Move out of your comfort zone. Push yourself to meet new people and you will increase your number of contacts.

How does that song go? R-E-S-P-E-C-T! Watch how aggressive you are about dominating conversations with potential clients. 

Practice good time management. It is critical to respect other people’s time.
Be very good at following up with new contacts you make, and keep communications open.
Be thankful for the relationships you build and show it.

Now let’s talk about some traditional, proven networking methods and tools you can benefit from:
Build your circle of friends. The adage that “friends buy from friends” is still true.

Send thank you cards to your to customers show that you appreciate the relationships. Let me ask you this question, when was the last time you received a handwritten note? Call me old-fashioned, but that still means much more to me than an electronic note does. 

Business cards still work. It is hard to overcome the value of a physical reminder of who you are. When I am at home and have a written myself a reminder of something I need to do, the task gets done much faster.

Talk about your business in everyday conversations. Do this, and you will be surprised how many of your friends and acquaintances end up talking to others about your business. Word of mouth marketing is very effective.

There are many ways to meet new people in your community. Consider joining your local chamber of commerce. Clubs and focus groups offer avenues to expand your number of contacts as well. You might want to join groups in your area that are specifically designed for networking with other business leaders.

Now that we have covered some of the more traditional methods for building a strong network, Christy is going to talk about one particularly useful tool for networking online.

James Lowry is the general manager of Lightning Labels, an all-digital label printer in Denver, CO, USA. He is a 25-year veteran of the printing industry with experience in digital, flexo, offset, and commercial printing.
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