How To Build A Strong Social Network by Laurie Hayes
The success of your home business ultimately boils down to the quality of your relationships.
People do not buy your product or service. They buy YOU first and foremost.
When they know you and trust you, and know you have a genuine interest in them, they become loyal customers and refer their friends.
How do you find people to build relationships with?
You can do this both online and offline.
To meet people online, simply Google "social networking" and explore your options.
To meet people offline, check your phone book for local networking organizations or ask professional friends who they recommend.
The biggest mistake people make when networking is ignoring the fact that building relationships takes time and patience. Many attend networking events and verbally "vomit" on the people they meet. They ramble on about their great opportunity, product or service and how everyone should jump on board and take advantage of it right away or risk losing the best offer they've ever had.
Has this ever happened to you? You've met someone who hasn't expressed any interest in you whatsoever or asked any questions to learn more about you, but somehow "seems" to know just what you need and insists they have the magic pill?
How do you respond to someone when they treat you that way? Do you want to spend another half hour talking to them or turn on your heels and run?
What if, however, that person asked you about yourself and was genuinely interested in you and what you do, and only after you asked about what he does, does he provide a brief explanation without a motive to sell. Would you be inclined to continue your conversation and learn more about each other and how you might be able to help each other?
In order to build a strong social network, you must be willing to learn about people -- ask questions and be willing to listen to their answers. Resist the temptation to interrupt or turn the conversation to yourself and you will be rewarded for your self-control.
As you learn about people and what their needs are, offer resources or connections that can help. Focus on helping others and others will help you.
If you're shy and uncomfortable in a room full of strangers, the simplest way to overcome that is to get to know them. This can be the scariest thing to do, but at the same time, if you move past the fear and take the risk of approaching others, you will liberate yourself from your self-imposed prison.
The world is then your oyster.
I recall a networking event I attended in a neighboring city. I didn't know anyone and stood alone holding a plate of raw veggies. Everyone there seemed to know each other. They were huddled in groups laughing and chatting.
I felt awkward and was beginning to wish I hadn't gone, then forced myself to snap out of it. I traveled to this town to meet people and decided I wasn't going home until I met someone.
I approached a small group and tapped a woman on the shoulder. I told her I was from out of town and felt silly standing by myself and wanted to meet people and would love to meet her first.
That's all it took to move past my fear. After speaking with her and meeting her colleagues and enjoying good conversation, I excused myself and went on to introduce myself to another person.
This person turned out to be a graphic designer, someone who had a service that complements my business. It turned out that she provided top quality business cards that no one could beat in price and I had a keep-in-touch technology that would help her grow her business and promote her creative work. We become instant friends and alliances.
By the end of the event, I made several new connections and met some fascinating and enthusiastic people. I also won a draw to participate in a golf tournament and meet more people.
If I could give three simple rules to build a strong social network, they would be:
1. Get out of your comfort zone. Introduce yourself to others. Take risks.
2. Make it all about the other person. Ask questions, then close your mouth and listen.
3. Share resources, contacts, experience -- whatever you can to help others.
Follow these three simple rules and others will reciprocate in kind. Regard networking as a marathon, not a 100-yard dash. Your relationships will be stronger, enduring and reward you for many years to come.
Laurie Hayes is the expert and visionary behind The HBB Confidential, a no-cost bi-weekly ezine for home-based business owners. Each issue delivers simple strategies you can use right away to build a profitable home business while creating fun and freedom in your life! Go to http://www.thehbbsource.com to learn more.