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Posts Tagged ‘Business Networking’

Spread it just right!

June 12, 2013 12 comments

Butter - Thick or thin

A sandwich is deposited in front of you by the waiter; you take the first bite and pull a face to express disappointment. Thoughts of delicious crisp buttered-toast melting in your mouth are killed by an insensitive cook who had applied a microscopic layer of butter, probably under instructions from his boss. The boss-man was more worried about his expenses that your satisfaction. You obviously kick up a fuss and ask the waiter to add a more generous helping of the dairy treat.

No consider yourself and the other person you meet as two slices of bread and the interaction / conversation that takes place between you as the layer of butter and you will be able to see networking in a new light.

If you are diffident or unwilling to share information the other person feels short-changed and you lose the opportunity to make an impact. The listener won’t consider it worthwhile to have a chat with you and would soon move elsewhere. You will end up not being aware of the other person’s work, or need, if smart questions aren’t asked to evoke a response. And it’s important that you wait for a complete answer before you ask further questions, or butt in to add your thoughts. When you are in a large gathering it is also important to spend some time with each person to give and get information. Flitting from group to group hoping to meet a lot of people would be counter-productive. You end not knowing anyone really well and they would know very little about you too.

Talking non-stop to just one person can be counter-productive – s/he might classify you as a bore and run away the next time you approach; and you might miss the opportunity to meet other interesting people in the gathering.

The message – if you apply too thick a layer of butter it is not going to increase the taste of your sandwich and in the bargain it form a potentially harmful deposit of fat around your waist.

The trick in networking, as in sandwich making, is to get the layer that goes in between just right!

The trick in networking, as in sandwich making, is to get what goes in between just right!

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The author, Jayadev Menon, has his own Business Consulting & Training practice, AKSH People Transformation.  To know more about his Consulting, Training and Coaching solutions visit http://www.akshworld.com or write to jayadev.menon@akshworld.com

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Does your network work?

June 10, 2013 10 comments

At a recent networking meeting I joined a conversation between two well-known businessmen – both run profit-making enterprises. One was telling the other about the importance of networking and how it had helped him – the discussion was sparked when a new member, present in that huddle, wondered aloud whether such meetings offered any benefit beyond the opportunity to hobnob, over a drink, with others in their peer group.

So, this businessman, who was formerly a Civil Servant, spoke about a time when his business was just taking root. Revenue was still not steady and orders were hard to come by. They were spending a lot but getting paltry returns – production close to capacity, salaries and bills to pay but business far from rosy.

To add to his misery China manufacturers were dumping cheaper products in the Indian market. Our narrator friend said that the writing was on the wall for his company. If something wasn’t done immediately they would’ve been forced to wind-up.

He decided to make a trip to Delhi to impress upon the Industry Ministry the need to impose a duty on imports in order to save domestic production. But he did not know where to begin because there he knew nobody in that ministry. However, there was a batch-mate of his working as Secretary in another department.

Without making any promises this friend took our businessman along to work, at the Central Secretariat. The idea was to discuss how and where they should start the process.

A few minutes after they settled done in the Civil Service friend’s office a colleague walked in to discuss some routine business matter. Our friend was introduced to the visitor and the reason for his visit was stated. Immediately this gentleman said he knew the Industry Secretary and offered to arrange the introduction. Our friend was in a state of shock, but was grateful too for this incredible stroke of luck that came his way. He had got more than he bargained for just by tagging along with his friend.

The Industry Secretary listened patiently to our businessman and saw merit in the request for anti-dumping duty. But he needed solid proof to put up the case to the Industries Minister. He told the businessman to bring evidence to substantiate his claim.

Our friend ran back to his contact’s office and stated what had happened. Now it was this person’s turn to help. He used the Government network of embassies and gathered the relevant information over the weekend. The meeting with the Industry Secretary had taken place on a Friday and by the following Monday the businessman had a solid Case Study (supported by hard facts) to present to the Secretary for building a case to impose import duty.

The Industry Secretary received the document  with utter astonishment – he was shocked to see such a robust case built up over the weekend. But he soon realized how the information was gathered and gave a big smile. He told our friend to leave the information with him and asked for time to work on it. He gave no assurance, nor did he even offer any word of encouragement or support.

But within two weeks of his returning from Delhi there was a letter delivered at his office with a Government of India seal on it. It was the typical low quality government stationery, he said. But inside was information that turned the fortune of his business. The letter contained a Government Order to impose duty on import of products in his category. He and his business were saved.

Our narrator friend said that it was a chance meeting in his friend’s office in Delhi and his friend’s ability to use Government machinery to gather information at short notice that saved the day for him.

He summed up by saying that such networking meetings are crucial for the success of our business. What do you think? Do you see benefit in networking?

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Did you enjoy this article? You can get updates on all new Posts by subscribing to the blog or on Facebook – just “Like” this:  https://www.facebook.com/Sales.Coach.Blog!!

The author, Jayadev Menon, has his own Business Consulting & Training practice, AKSH People Transformation.  To know more about his Consulting, Training and Coaching solutions visit http://www.akshworld.com or write to jayadev.menon@akshworld.com

Single, better than mingle!

October 1, 2012 5 comments

Ok, before you send the brain on a crazy trip thinking this is some sort of rant on relationships let me put your mind at rest by affirming that you are still at a business blog and this article is most definitely about work, not play!

Earlier this evening a friend and I attended a Management Association meeting. The agenda for the day was a talk on “Investor Friendly Kerala” by a senior Civil Servant.

It was a good talk too – but the highlight for me was what happened earlier. We reached the venue a good thirty minutes before the commencement of the meeting with the intention of catching up with a few members. Being independent practitioners or freelancers we wished to get noticed by the local business fraternity as Consultants- so being seen at the right places and meeting the right people were integral components of our game-plan.

While I went around the room meeting other members he engaged one member in a lengthy conversation – unlike me he was not going around the room meeting a lot of people. I thought it was because he was new in town and did not know many people here. I had been a member of this Association for a number of years and knew many more people.

As we drove back home I made it a point to speak with him about my observation. I asked whether he knew that person well and he told me this:

“I am meeting him for the first time. We had a lot to discuss because we both are in the same line of business. But I spent more time with him to get to know the person well and to build some degree of familiarity; that will help to take the relationship forward to the next level when we interact again. Our discussions may not result in anything at all, but I felt that when we spend more time together we are able to share more details and thereby reach a certain level of comfort. The other person would feel that we are genuinely interested in them and be willing to share more information – he would also be willing to hear more about us.”

“If I spend a little time with a lot of people I will remember none of them and they won’t remember me either. You probably have done this relationship building earlier and so you can afford to spend a little time with a lot of people. I have found that by showing interest in a person’s work we can get them interested in us. They are more willing to help and cooperate.”

“I also make it a point not to seek business at the first meeting. It is just an ice-breaking session and I build equity by sharing information about my work/experience. If the other person voluntarily talks about opportunities for me I try to downplay my interest and tell him that he can call or let me know whenever it is convenient to him – being too eager may kill the prospect. I take his card and on the next day make it a point to send him my portfolio and details of my achievements, making sure that I don’t ask anything about the business opportunity he might have mentioned.”

Doesn’t that make a lot of sense? This man knows the game well!

I know this isn’t a comprehensive discussion on Business Networking – see it more like one useful tip that can help you achieve better results from the time invested in networking.

One at a time works best!

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Note: This works best when you make repeat visits to the same group and have further opportunities to meet the members.

If it is a conference or an annual networking gathering that is a one-time opportunity it makes sense to meet more, but again its best to meet a select few than to meet “all”. A friend suggested that we should do some homework and make a list of people we wish to meet – that is a smart idea if you know who all are going to be present at the gathering. Its best not to do too much, stick to a few important ones and invest quality into each meeting.

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