19 January 2024

The 59 Commandments of Business Networking

By Ronald Smith

Hey there, let’s talk about the 59 commandments of business networking.

1. Thou shalt be authentic.

First things first, it’s important to be genuine and true to yourself. People appreciate authenticity.

2. Thou shalt listen actively.

When engaging in conversations, make sure to actively listen. Pay attention to what others are saying.

3. Thou shalt follow up.

Don’t forget to follow up after networking events. It shows you value connections and want to maintain them.

4. Thou shalt share knowledge.

Share your expertise with others. We all benefit when we help each other grow.

59. Thou shalt have fun!

Lastly, but certainly not least, have fun while networking! Enjoy meeting new people and building relationships.

So there you have it, the 59 Commandments of Business Networking. Follow these guidelines, and you’ll be well on your way to building a strong network and achieving success!

The 59 Commandments of Business Networking

Let’s talk about sales and business networking. It’s a powerful tool that can help you boost your business. But here’s the catch – if you don’t do it right, it could actually harm your business. Not good, right?

Here’s the thing: people need to trust you before they’ll want to do business with you or recommend you to others. So, how can you show them that you’re trustworthy? Well, I’ve got some commandments of business networking that can point you in the right direction.

The Commandments of Business Networking

Networking at Events

  1. Know where to go. Not all venues are suitable for everyone. It’s important to do your research and figure out which venues make sense for your business. Trust me, it’s worth the effort.
  2. Decide on the organizations you want to join. Choose the ones that will provide the most value for you at the events. Should I join a local chamber of commerce? Or should I just attend events that interest me and have people I should meet?
  3. Make sure to register for the event and treat it like a business meeting. Many people forget to sign up or forget to attend after signing up.
  4. Figure out how often you should network. How many times should you go to networking events each week, month, or quarter? This will help you decide where to focus your efforts.
  5. Create thought-provoking questions. These can spark great conversations. Try to come up with interesting questions that you haven’t asked before, instead of the same old what do you do question.
  6. Have a plan when attending events. Make it a point to learn something new each time. This way, you won’t end up talking about yourself and your business too much.
  7. Prepare yourself mentally and physically for the event. Dress appropriately and bring your business cards. Don’t forget to turn off your phone or put it on silent mode. (I’m serious about this!)
  8. Remember to socialize. Are you going with someone? If yes, split up once you arrive at the event.
  9. Take a moment to observe the environment. When you enter, step to the side, take a deep breath, and look around the room. Use this time to gather yourself and focus before approaching anyone.
  10. Wait before taking a seat. I suggest waiting until the event or program begins. If there isn’t a specific program, you can sit down once you’ve made a connection with someone.
  11. Step out of your comfort zone and sit with new people. This is not the time to stick to your familiar group. Try sitting with strangers and make new connections.
  12. Show kindness to others. If you notice someone sitting alone, be a good Samaritan and approach them. Introduce yourself and make them feel welcome. They might be feeling lonely and nervous, so you can even invite them to join you and meet others.
  13. Be selective about giving out your business card. Instead of handing your business card to everyone you meet, wait for someone to ask you for it. This way, you can focus on those who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer.
  14. Remember to collect business cards from everyone you meet. It’s important to gather contact information from everyone you interact with. You never know when a connection might come in handy.
  15. Master the art of a firm handshake. Your handshake speaks volumes about your confidence level. So, take a moment to consider what message your handshake is conveying to those you meet.
  16. Stay focused and engaged. When you’re having a conversation with someone, give them your full attention and truly listen to what they’re saying. Paying attention to the person not only shows that you care, but it also helps you decide if you can be of assistance to them. It’s the only way to determine if you want to continue building a relationship with them beyond the current situation.
  17. Avoid distractions. Don’t let your eyes wander around the room or look past the person you’re talking to. This behavior is impolite and sends the message that you’re not genuinely interested in them.
  18. Minimize interruptions. If you’re waiting for an important call or have a situation that might demand your immediate attention, inform the person you’re conversing with ahead of time. Let them know there’s a chance you may have to excuse yourself momentarily.
  19. When it comes to taking important calls, do it privately. Step out of the room and find a quiet spot. Taking calls in front of others doesn’t make you look more important; it actually makes you look impolite, silly, rude, or even arrogant. Take your pick!
  20. Politely disengage from conversations. How can you politely end a conversation? There are a few tactics you can use. You can let the person know that you don’t want to take up too much of their time. You can mention that you see someone you need to speak with. Excusing yourself to go to the restroom is another option. You can also let them know that you would like to continue meeting other people.
  21. Avoid following up through email. The only exception to this rule is if someone specifically asks you to do so.
  22. Make sure to send a note, at the very least.

How to Network Effectively and Build Successful Relationships

  1. Timing is Everything. Instead of trying to sell yourself right away, focus on building genuine relationships. As you connect with others, you’ll know when the time is right to do business together. Remember, effective networking is about building relationships, not just making sales pitches.
  2. Respect People’s Privacy. Always ask for permission before adding someone to your newsletter or any other mailing list. It’s important to respect their preferences and ensure they genuinely want to receive your updates.
  3. Avoid Assumptions. Just because you meet someone doesn’t mean you can automatically ask for referrals, use them for your own gain, or bombard them with promotional materials. Building trust takes time, so be patient and focus on nurturing the relationship.
  4. Always Be Courteous. Mistakes happen, but always strive to be polite and treat others how you would like to be treated. Follow the golden rule and prioritize good manners in all your interactions.

Referral Groups

  1. Focus on giving. When it comes to getting referrals, I’ve learned that trust is key. And trust isn’t something I can earn overnight. I’ve got to show my fellow networkers that I’m willing to give quality referrals before I can expect anything in return.
  2. Show up regularly and on time. It’s important for me to be punctual and consistent when attending network meetings. When I’m late or miss meetings, it sends a message to my group members – it tells them that I only care about myself and don’t take the time to understand their needs. How can they trust me with their clients if I can’t even show up on time?
  3. Come prepared. Before each meeting, I make it a point to have a clear list of referral needs. The more specific I can be, the better chances I have of receiving referrals. It shows my group members that I’m serious about growing my business and that I value their help.
  4. Always ask for what you need. Don’t be afraid to ask for more prospects to keep our pipeline strong. If you don’t ask consistently, you could end up in a place where you never ask at all. If you know you won’t be able to follow up on referrals right away, just be honest with the group and let them know. It’s okay to ask as long as you’re open about your availability.
  5. Focus on the group. When you’re in a meeting, give your full attention to the needs of the other members. Put your phone away and avoid checking emails. Truly listen and think about how you can support them. Remember, being present and engaged makes a big difference.
  6. Get to know the members personally. Take some time to meet with individual members outside of our regular meetings. This way, you can build a stronger connection and understand their needs better.
  7. Don’t try to sell to your fellow group members. When you meet one-on-one with them, your goal is to form connections, not pitch your products or services.
  8. Remember that you have to give before you can receive. Building relationships takes time and effort, so be willing to offer help and support to others before expecting anything in return.
  9. Be patient when it comes to receiving referrals. It takes time for trust and rapport to develop with group members, so don’t expect referrals to come pouring in right away.
  10. View other group members as valuable resources. Get to know how they operate their businesses and establish trust, so that you can leverage their expertise and connections when your contacts are in need of their services. This will enhance your reputation with clients, prospects, and contacts.
  11. Make sure your referrals and leads are valuable. I once knew someone who would write up a referral and then add Please don’t mention my name at the bottom. But guess what? That kind of referral is useless. I’ve also seen situations where people give referrals and then later tell the person they referred, Actually, don’t contact that person. That’s not helpful either! It’s better to not give a referral at all than to give a lousy one.
  12. Always check before giving out names. Before you refer someone to a client, make sure it’s okay with that client first. You don’t want to end up in a situation where the client gets angry because you referred someone without asking first.
  13. Stay connected! If someone refers you to someone else, make sure to follow up promptly. Think about how it would make the person feel if they referred you and you didn’t follow up in a timely manner. This could make them hesitant to refer you again. Building trust and relationships within your referral group takes time, so it’s important to take referrals seriously and not neglect them.

Social Networking

Similar to networking at events, there are guidelines to follow when it comes to online social networking:

  1. Be true to yourself! It’s important to be authentic when you communicate on social networking platforms. Before posting something in your news feed or participating in a discussion, make sure it aligns with how you want others to see you.
  2. Don’t send spam. Nobody likes spam, and that includes sending annoying sales messages on social media. Instead, use these platforms to build relationships and expand your network. Annoying people won’t help you achieve that.
  3. Don’t overly promote yourself. It’s okay to let people know what you’re doing, but don’t make it the only thing you talk about. On Facebook, for example, save business-related posts for your business page. Your personal profile is for personal stuff, and if you post too much about your business, people might block you.
  4. Share information. People love to learn new things, and social networking is a great way to share knowledge with others. By sharing your expertise on platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, you not only demonstrate your relevance but also establish yourself as an expert in your field. When you do this, search engines like Google take notice and reward you with more exposure.
  5. Tell people why you want to connect with them. Instead of using the same old connection script, try to personalize your messages when reaching out to new connections. If they’re not your closest friends, it’s important to give them a reason why they should accept your connection request.
  6. Engage actively. The more effort you put in, the more you’ll get out of social networking. This means actively participating in discussions, retweeting posts you find interesting, commenting on other people’s posts, and sharing content that you enjoy. Remember, the more you engage, the more you’ll benefit from these platforms.
  7. Don’t assume. I know it’s tempting, but just because you’re connected to someone doesn’t mean you should start pitching to them. That’s a big no-no.
  8. Explain why you want an introduction. If you’re looking for an introduction from one of your contacts, take the time to explain why you’re seeking it. Give them a good reason to make the connection.
  9. Value your online connections. Remember, your online connections are just as important as the ones you have offline. Don’t overlook their value.
  10. Get to know them. When you start a conversation with someone, join a group with them, or read something they’ve written, take the next step and connect with them directly. Use this opportunity to build a relationship by getting to know them, their business, and what they need.
  11. Listen to what people are saying. Social media is like being in a big room filled with people talking. When you listen to what people are saying, you can learn a lot about them. You can also find new connections.
  12. Avoid being pushy. This is similar to spamming and constantly promoting yourself. I’m sure you’ve heard of it before. That’s because social media is not about selling. It’s about forming relationships to help your business grow.
  13. Don’t feel like you have to. You can choose who you want to connect with on different platforms. Just make sure you’re consistent. If you decide that you don’t want to be connected with business associates on Facebook, then don’t. And if someone you don’t know requests to connect with you, remember that you don’t have to if you don’t want to.
  14. Help out whenever you can. If you can connect people or answer someone’s question, go for it!
  15. Show your true self. Don’t hide behind a fake identity. Remember, people do business with people they trust. So, it’s important to let others see the real you so they can get to know you.
  16. Put your own picture as your profile photo. People prefer to connect with real faces rather than avatars. Make sure to choose a suitable photo for each platform. For LinkedIn, use a professional headshot. On Facebook, use your business logo for your page. On your personal page, you can use any picture that represents you personally. On Twitter, using a logo is a good choice.
  17. Keep private conversations private. When you want to have a one-on-one conversation, it’s important to use common sense and good judgment and reach out to the person privately. Avoid discussing personal matters in public spaces.
  18. Make an effort to attend events whenever you can. If there’s an in-person event organized by an online group you’re a part of, try your best to go. Meeting people face to face helps strengthen relationships. Remember, even when you’re meeting in person, you’re still building and nurturing those connections.
  19. Suggest a meeting. When I connect with someone on social media, I make sure to reach out and suggest meeting up. We can have a phone call, chat on Skype, or even meet in person if we’re close by. Physical distance shouldn’t be a barrier in today’s world. It shouldn’t stop us from building a strong business relationship.
  20. Be approachable. I won’t have the chance to get to know and like you if you act distant or unapproachable. No one is so special that they can’t be approached. After all, why would anyone want to build a relationship with someone who keeps their distance?

While the ultimate aim is to increase sales, I don’t participate in business networking just to sell. Instead, I focus on finding and developing relationships with people who I can help, and who can help me in return.