I had the privilege to address dealmakers at one of Africa’s largest Indabas held in Cape Town. The message underpinning my highly interactive and pragmatic sessions was simple, yet profound: As we move through the rest of 2013 and beyond, there is a lot to think about and understand as it relates to the world of networking and business relationship development. In my humble opinion, based on my own experience and life-long learning, networking as we know it today has been dying a slow death since the dawn of the global financial crisis.

And, if you think that you’re going to continue doing what you have been doing as it relates to business networking and building relationships, you’re making a big mistake. In fact Albert Einstein calls it “insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. Now don’t get offended by my statement. I really don’t mean any harm. It’s just true.

So with that said, here are four suggestions on what you should consider doing to make the most from the business networking relationships you have developed and are in the process of developing:

1.BECOME PURPOSE DRIVEN: If building relationships is going to be at the forefront of your internal and external networking activities to reach your success objectives, then you first have to strengthen your relationship with self. Self reflection, reason for being, purpose driven and vision is an important  part of that process. If you don’t take the time to sit back and work on yourself, who will? If you don’t take stock of what resources, information, opportunities and support you need, who will?  “The world makes way for the man who knows where he is going”, said Emerson.

2.GET AWAY FROM THE CROWD AT THE BOTTOM: One of the most difficult steps you will face on your success journey is getting away from the crowd at the bottom. There are many unsuccessful, mediocre people who have failed to recognize, or act, on their true potential. If you constantly associate with them, your success journey will be short-lived. You must clear the deck to make room for new associations which will complement and enhance your successefforts.

3.CREATE A LIST OF 20 PEOPLE:  Create a list of people you do not yet know but would like to know. I am not talking about the Oprah’s of the world, although hanging out with Oprah would certainly be good for business. No, I am talking about the people that are closer to you – people in your industry who can open doors for you, people that you can actually and relatively easily,get to. For example, if you want to get more sales selling medical equipment, you might want to reach out to certain medical association event coordinators or if you want to demonstrate your competence by writing articles, you might want to reach out to certain editors.

4. DEVELOP DEEPER RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE PEOPLE YOU ALREADY KNOW OR HAVE MET: Listen              generously with sincere empathy. “Being understood by others is the greatest need of all”, said the late Dr Stephen R. Covey. Here are a few Empathic Listening starters, these should help you get started using Empathic Listening:  (1) So, if I am understanding you correctly you are saying… (2) What I’m hearing is… (3) You seem… (4) You must have felt… (5) You feel…about…

When you listen to understand before being understood, you create instant rapport. You discover ways to become helpful and you move your relationship to the next level.

As ever, I remain, at your service. In the meantime, keep thinking big about who you are and what you offer the world.


These articles may be copied or republished with the following credit: “By Karl Smith: author, speaker and founder of Business Networking South Africa” Cape Town.

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