Volume 7 · Issue 2
With the global neighborhood and its many challenges and opportunities, we truly live and work in an age dominated by networks. Networking is really small talk with a target. The secret is in knowing how to turn casual conversations into useful connections. Connections are the coin of the realm, and savvy business people know how to make those connections work for them.
Many of my clients have asked me to create programs to develop networking skills for managers and staff level employees. The enthusiasm with which these initiatives have been met, at all levels of organizations, has convinced me that the need to understand and succeed at networking is widespread.
With this in mind, I have written “Work Your Network, Making Impactful Business Connections” which provides tools and techniques to develop appropriate networks. One activity in this booklet is a self-assessment survey which leads you to discover your own Networking Style. In general, I have identified four specific styles which individuals employ when they reach out to build business networks. Which one is yours? Read below to find out.
- The Audacious Networker
- The Cautious Networker
- The Tireless Networker
- The Supportive Networker
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People with this style are the most energetic and quickly lose interest in anything that is not directly related to them or their bottom line. An Audacious Networker has a powerful aura, which others feel when s/he walks into a room. At meetings, people know the Audacious Networker’s opinions.
Motivated by bottom-line results, the Audacious Style may appear impatient in person, on the phone, at conferences. You could picture two of his/her phones ringing at the same time! Known for interrupting people, tapping pencils and feet – alternately or simultaneously – and blunt, quick comebacks, this style turns off as many people as it turns on. Thriving on directness (“what’s the bottom line – give it to me straight”) they feel comfortable interacting in the same manner.
If you are an Audacious Networker, you are good at getting results. What others question is how you accomplish them. A business networking tip for you is to be more considerate of other people’s feelings, and the sky is the limit for you.
Cautious Networkers check the details before they attend an event or join a group. Time, date, place? Who will be there? What is appropriate dress? Why was I invited? What is expected of me? Will it be worth my time and money?
Cautious Networkers are precise and analytical. Known for a deliberate approach to people and data, they do not like to make mistakes or be misquoted. Rather than rushing into a room of strangers, they make a premeditated, conscious entry. They are expert at evaluating, and gather data before deciding with whom to speak.
If you are a Cautious Networker, small talk is NOT on your agenda. You prefer the meat and potatoes, allowing other styles to feast on salads and desserts. It may be beneficial to your relationship building to ease up. Others may have difficulty living up to your standards or may not choose to be in your network if you are so demanding. It’s okay for you to choose perfectionism; however, it is not fair to expect others to do so.
A business networking tip for you is to take an active role in planning networking events. Your eye for detail and your ability to organize are qualities others will value and benefit.
Tireless Networkers are incapable of being fatigued. Networking was designed for them. They can’t get enough of building relationships at work. Heaven is a room full of people – and an invitation to enter. Tireless networkers were born to schmooze! People of this style strike up a conversation in the parking lot, in the elevator, in the registration line and already are in the swing before both feet are inside the room.
If you are a Tireless Networker, your love of meeting and talking with people can also be a detriment: You need to guard against getting so carried away with your stories that you meet only a few people. Managing your time better would definitely help! Your desire to be on center stage leads to storytelling rather than information gathering. Or you may feel the urge to meet everyone and, in your breathless race to do so, barely get to know everyone. Learning comes from listening. A business networking tip for you is to pay attention to what others know and need and want: It is the key to building relationships and selling yourself, your product or service. Learn to benefit from others’ experiences, knowledge and expertise.
A quiet even-handed, steady approach is the hallmark of the Supportive Networker’s networking activities. They are known for a sincerity that is evident through their handshake, smile and demeanor. Supportive Networkers are the best listeners. Phrases like “tell me more,” “Go on,” and “What do you think?” encourages others to open up and makes them feel important.
If you are a Supportive Networker you don’t want to knowingly hurt anyone’s feelings. You tend to be uncomfortable when the pace heats up and would rather withdraw into your shell until the conflict blows over. If, however, you think you may be the cause of any ill feelings, you will approach the person to smooth things over. Preferring the security of warm, friendly relationships, you like to avoid the unknown. Yet, you are cognizant of the benefits of networking and know you occasionally have “to take the plunge.” Your compromise is to seek a safe environment, which may mean talking to the same person for most of the event.
A business networking tip for you is to ask your extroverted friends to take you under their wings and include you as they comfortably glide through the crowd. Learn by watching and experiment at your own pace next time.
We hope this business networking article on the four basic Networking Styles stimulates you to reflect on how you communicate to broaden your circle of associates. These are times of transition, and there are many roads to take and networks to build to ensure your own success. One last business networking tip is, like everything else, the more you engage in networking activities, the easier it becomes. Success builds on success.
AIM Strategies® Applied Innovative Management® is a results-driven Human Capital Consulting firm specializing in the areas of: Global Leadership Development, Co-located and Virtual Team Facilitation, Cross Cultural Communications, and Change Integration Services. To request information about AIM’s experiential learning methods (5D’s™ Consulting/Proprietary Training Methodology and ACT™ Coaching Process), please email email@example.com. In upcoming issues of this newsletter, we’ll update you on tips and techniques related to raising your innovative management IQ. We are confident that the solutions we develop fit your needs and culture. Please forward this newsletter to your colleagues and visit www.aim-strategies.com to learn more about how our services unlock the people potential of your organization!