Networking: Be your own best advocate

“The medium is the message.” Marshall McLuhan The contacts made in business networking will be useful in a number of ways such as growing your business, reaching new clients or in reinforcing your own professional reputation. However, like all marketing tools, for business networking to deliver a return you have to invest time and energy, polishing up some skills or perhaps even acquiring new ones. In order to be remembered for all the right reasons, it is especially important to hit the right note when you meet new people or when you are offered the chance to make a short pitch to the group. In business networking, the medium is you! Your name /your company: (essential of course…) What is special about you /the company: (awards, qualifications, experience…) What you offer: (in a few sentences with strong focus on the benefits for the customer…) What you are looking for: (referrals, new opportunities, meetings…) The sign-off: (repeat or emphasise a point you want the listener to remember…) It is important to practise and be able to deliver this pitch confidently at the drop of hat. However, remember that networking is not just about referrals and very rarely will a first meeting result in an immediate sale. Our advice is to approach networking as a chance to get to KNOW others: Look to build relationships rather than attempting to make a sale. Use positive and welcoming body language to maintain rapport. Be enthusiastic and friendly towards fellow networkers. Give people your time and show interest in what they do by asking questions. Follow-up on any promises you make. When it comes...

Generate multiple options with questions

When you want to coach for innovation, your challenge is to resist the natural tendency to voice an immediate solution or to give advice. Instead, start an exploration process. Move from telling to asking questions that encourage the other person to refocus their attention and tap into their own potential to generate options and find new, unique solutions. The three main focus areas for your questions are: 1. Information Gathering: explore the background of the problem or issue. 2. Causes: consider what led to the problem or issue in the first place. 3. Goal & Fixes: check the goal and generate options to solve the problem or issue. Find out more about how to generate multiple options with Coaching for Innovation (2014, Palgrave Macmillan) by Maureen Steele and Cristina...