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Take 5: Five Steps to Being a Better Networker

by Editorial Staff--South Jersey Biz
Networking is just as important today as it was back when you were searching for your first job. Building on­going relationships within the business community can benefit your company by yielding prospects, keeping you in touch with the community’s changing needs and introducing a variety of opportunities. Greg Gutos, president of USA Phones, has been networking for 30 years. He launched a newsletter dedicated to keeping his 6,000 clients in the loop, and helped found Jersey Business Leaders, a local networking group. He shares five tips on how to schmooze the smart way.

1. Make your customers your best networkers.
“The best business networking opportunities we get are the referrals we get from satisfied customers,” Gutos notes. “Make sure your customers are happy and call them monthly,” he suggests. On those calls, don’t be afraid ask for referrals; a satisfied client will be happy to share them.

2. Meet the neighbors.
If you’re out in the field, make that time on the road pay dividends. “Every appointment you go on, invest the time to drop off at least five corporate brochures to the neighboring offices, explaining you are working with other client in their building,” Gutos suggests. Ask what the businesses’ needs are, and if there’s anything you can do to help. “You will be surprised at the new contacts and business” you can generate.

3. Seek out synergies.
“Network with other businesses working your market,” Gutos suggests, including those outside your industry. Not only can you compare notes, but you can share ideas, fresh leads, advice and camaraderie. “We started a network group of business owners in South Jersey.… Ultimately, the time invested leads to opportunities.”

4. Meet regularly with other networking groups.
Offer to speak at their events, conduct workshops and share advice. “Become known as an expert in your field,” says Gutos. “Good service and reputation will build your network. Get others to network you as the expert!”

5. Become a networking hub.
One way to really build relationships is to offer your clients a chance to learn about you—while networking themselves. “Create a lunch-and-learn at your site,” Gutos suggests. “Invite clients and fellow networkers to learn more about you and your services.” The outcome could surpass all your expectations.

Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Biz, Volume 1, Issue 2 (February, 2011).
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