What is Networking? – Brian Covault

Friday is for Friends

This week in my Friday is for Friends feature I welcome a great friend, Brian Covault. Brian is the Founder and President of the Texas Community Referral Network. In this post he gives us some great tips about "Networking." According to Brian, effective networking will give you a bigger piece of the pie! Read and enjoy! Often people think networking is attending a function where others gather and they try to achieve an individual goal or task such as gaining a new client/customer or finding a new job.  They are generally focused more on themselves and less on who they are talking to. These people attack networking from a point of selling “their” company or “their” personal accomplishments, and do so in a hasty manner.  However, the result they are looking for seldom is achieved.  Because of this, people on both fronts frequently are discouraged when it comes to networking. This does not have to be the case though. Most networking takes place at a particular organized function where a variety of business professionals are gathered.  There is a common misconception where people associate networking as selling.  Networking is NOT selling.  Networking is a process of establishing and building relationships.  When done correctly networking can certainly have a profound impact on your business, but selling is not part of the networking process rather a result of effective networking. The first step to effective networking is to be friendly and accessible to meeting others at the function you are attending.  You can’t stand off in the corner and expect everyone to come to you.  Although, you also do not want to speed through the room spending 20 seconds with every person you come in contact with and see how many of your cards you can hand out.  You do want to have plenty of cards on hand but make this less about you and more about the person you are meeting. Introduce yourself, shake hands and engage with the person asking what they do and about their business…ask for their card.  When this is done, they will most likely in turn ask about you and your business as well as ask for your card.  As you find out about the other person and how you can possibly help them, they will intuitively reciprocate. Focusing on the other person will obviously make them feel good and allows you to make a positive first impression (a whole other subject), which will have you stand out in the crowd (this is a good thing).  Don’t spend the entire event with the same person but be sure to engage in good conversation for at least five to ten minutes with each person you meet.  If you know someone else there, introduce that person to the individual you just met.  Repeat this process over the course of the event and set a goal of making about four or five good contacts. The following day, drop a short email to each person you met at the event letting them know that you are happy you had a chance to meet and enjoyed learning about them and their company.  Mention that you will stay in touch, and reference that if you know someone that is in need of their product or service, that you will pass their name on. Periodically drop an email and be sure to keep in touch with them.  As these new relationships strengthen, you heighten the reality of gaining opportunities to generate business through referrals or directly from the person you met.  Be patient and rely on the process.  In time, you will benefit from new business, but remember…this is a two way street.  The more you help others, the more you will get in return. Don’t shy away from networking.  Don’t give up on it.  Networking can help your business tremendously but like all other aspects of business, a process exists.  When this process is followed, you will not only be able to assist others grow their business but you will continually have new opportunities to grow your business as well!

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4 Responses to “What is Networking? – Brian Covault”

  1. Glenn says:

    So many great comments. Thank you all. And especially a big “thanks” to Brian Covault for sharing his insight and experience with us!

  2. Tim Barnes says:

    My wife is an extrovert and belongs to many organizations in Fort Bend that have networking activities. I am about as shy as a person can be without being “agorifobic.” The idea of approaching a stranger at a networking function causes me to break into a cold sweat. I am much more comfortable meeting people and answering insurance questions over the phone or on-line. What I have learned is that both models can work. They both take time to develop and require a disciplined follow-up process. I am convinced that you can be a success in business whether you are a Type A or Type B personality. Face-to-face networking is just one way to make those personal connections required. The work is in transitioning from a mere acquaintance to a trusted professional.

  3. Kyle Henderson says:

    Like Charles, typically I shy away from networking, but with this approach it really makes a huge difference both in the experience and the results. Brian does a great job of cultivating this atmosphere with the Texas Community Referral Network and Glenn does a great job of getting business owners to steer their thinking habits in this direction.

  4. Brian,

    For a long time “networking” has had a negative connotation for me.
    It’s only in the last year or two working with the Fort Bend Chamber, The Growth Coach and Texas Community Referral Network that I have seen the positive side of networking.

    Your perspective here would be enlightening to many networkers I’ve met. It’s a simple concept. You will help yourself more by helping others, but so many people get it wrong.

    Charles