Networking - A Marketing Must!

June 11, 1999 -- We all should know what networking means when it comes to finding a new career.

Well, the same rules apply to using networking as a marketing tool for a small business, especially one that offers services.

Moreover, the lack of financial resources to market effectively makes networking that more important.

In fact, many Internet related and consulting services should practice networking as a vital marketing strategy for ongoing success. And the best type of networking is when a satisfied client refers your business to another unsolicited. However, this type of referral normally comes after the "personal contacting" approach.

Networking goes beyond whom you know. It relies on people you may have never met, but who are linked by friendships and/or business relationships to individuals you do know. This personal marketing process of business development could be called "multi-layered relationship networking" (MLRN).

Now, how successful anyone businessperson can be with MLRN truly depends on whether one is an introvert or extrovert and then how many people down the networking line are introverts or extroverts.

Being introverted and having mostly introverted friends/associates can make for very loyal relationships, but limits the success of networking. If you are inclined to wait to hear from someone and are uncomfortable to ask for assistance, then networking your business might be very difficult, especially if you are a one person sales force. Also, any salesperson who works for you with a similar perspective should seriously consider a different profession. How can networking succeed when the first move is based on waiting for others to call you?

Furthermore, having mostly introverted friends and associates will also limit the success of MLRN, because of the reluctance to going beyond their immediate influence. Don't get me wrong. I have a wife and very good friends who are introverts, but there is a point that any of them will go including my wife. Ask them to do something that only involves them and they are selfless. They are less inclined to ask others to help, because it might be intrusive or it is contrary to doing it themselves. So networking can hit many friendly roadblocks out of the concern of bothering people.

Note: Many successful introverted business people have achieved by hiring introverts and extroverts appropriately.

An extroverted person should have the best chance of MLRN if the rest of the personality traits and professional skills are used properly. Usually, an extrovert will make the necessary contacts for networking purposes. It then becomes a question of how many of the contacts are extroverts and the ability to manage the networking process without coming across as pushy, unorganized, desperate, and/or rude. Introverted friends and associates can be very helpful as well, but it might require you to contact the names of business people they provide.

Before anyone who feels insulted from the above statements emails me, please keep in mind that my comments about introverts and extroverts were an over simplification for the purposes of discussing MLRN. We are all a combination of traits that might make one extremely extroverted, slightly introverted, or just the opposite. Additionally, one's interpersonal, communication, and organizational skills are important in MLRN.

Fortunately, online networking should not be as difficult for introverts. One can email and link exchange with minimal expenditure and without ever having to make a phone call first. You can also participate in appropriate business discussion lists, newsgroups, or other interactive venues; apply for awards (see Award Sites!); write well intentioned articles for eZines; and, use search engines to find more potential networking relationships.

Critical to the process of networking is the competitiveness of what is offered and that perceived quality of the targeted customer is met or exceeded. Otherwise, how can a businessperson continually use MLRN successfully? 


David G. Bancroft
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