Networking is critical to the success of the growth of a small business. But for many, networking is something that is a chore rather than a must-do activity. Understanding your networking personality and that of others can be the key to success.
Attending functions around Australia I have noticed that there are six distinct styles of networkers. Identifying these and who you are dealing with can help you grow your business. Which networking personality are you?
Socialites love to attend events and can be relied upon to lighten up any occasion. They seek out the person standing at an event on their own and include them in conversation. These are great people to meet if you are fearful of attending an networking event on your own.
If you are a socialite you run the risk of spending too much time socialising and leave little time for yourself to do the things you must do, often resulting in time pressure and unfinished business. Time must become your friend, not your enemy.
The serial is known to rush around collecting cards and making quick ‘friends’. Serials rarely give you a chance to talk or catch your breath. They are a whirlwind of information and have a database that reads like a business who’s who directory. For those that don’t like attending events meeting the serial is their worst nightmare. The serial can appear overbearing and pushy even though this is not usually the case. Serials – be aware not everyone is on board as quick as you.
The initiator is well connected, has strong business relationships and will connect you for a common purpose that benefits all. They see opportunity and follow up immediately. Their ability to cut through the red tape, clear the clutter of thinking and to take action assists in initiating change, action and results.
They are resourceful and if they don’t know it, someone they know will. Take care to not waste their time because they become frustrated easily with people who do not follow through on what they say. They operate with a ‘what you see is what you get’ attitude.
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Unfortunately, this is the most common type of small business networking personality. They network occasionally because they need to. Either business is slow or they feel a need to seek opinion, ideas, social interaction or business.
Typically they attend an event, make contacts, exchange business cards and never follow up. They rarely get business from networking so see it as a last resort rather than a must-do part of their business.
The balanced are consistent with their actions, follow up when they meet people, see opportunities, connect people and give without expectation. They understand the true value of networking. Importantly they plan their business networking activities, they know each day who they will call, each week what events they will attend and who they will follow up with. They are never short of business and are happy to refer their ‘networking friends’.
These people think business networking is a waste of time. They are fearful people will reject them or are just way too busy or lazy to network.
If this is you and you want to grow your small business… NETWORK! It won’t kill you, in fact you never know what opportunities it might bring!
The most important aspect of small business growth is to network. You should look to create connections, build relationships and follow up with the people you meet.
You will come across many people in your networking lifetime. Even if they are not useful to you at the time, you never know what is around the corner or who they know!
Which of the above types best describes your networking personality?