Monday, June 30, 2008

The Art Of Networking - An Interview With Danielle Hampson

Networking is not only crucial to business success - it is business success. It has been said that nothing happens until something is sold. However, I would put forth that nothing is sold until one person 'networks' with another.

Networking is not selling - it is joining with another to achieve a common goal. It is so basic to accomplishment that it cannot be separated from it, any more than breathing can be separated from being alive. However, that 'skill', (if we can call it a skill) can be learned and improved upon.

Danielle Hampson is a leading expert regarding networking.
She is the CEO and founder of The Art Of Networking (TAN), the founder of Mind Your BIZness, a talk show host, speaker, author, and an international business consultant.

That being said, Danielle has taken networking to an entirely new level; creating something we have never seen before. Any person wishing to experience any level of success would do well to listen carefully to her guidance. I had the opportunity to interview Danielle recently. I listened very carefully. You should also . . .

  1. Danielle, WHO Needs to Network?

Unless you live on a desert island, you need to network, we all need to network. Our society is such that networking is a must for all of us whether in business or not, because we cannot sustain just on our own. And we have been doing is naturally since we were able to walk and talk. As children, we decided who was going to be our best friend through networking; we just did not know it was networking. We met new kids, we talked to other kids and decided if we had any affinity with them or not. That is all part of networking.

  1. WHAT Is Networking?

There are many definitions of networking, and the one I personally like, I did not write it but I adopted it – courtesy of Networking is the interaction of an extended group of people with similar interests or concerns, who remain in informal contact for mutual assistance or support.

Notice that nowhere does it say anything about selling, and I will elaborate on that further down.

  1. WHERE Should You Network?

Chambers of Commerce, industry & professional associations, networking organizations, churches, beauty parlors, PTA meetings, sporting events, supermarkets standing in line. Everywhere, provided it is done in an appropriate manner for the event you are attending.

  1. WHEN Should You Network?

You should be wearing your networking hat at all time because you never know when opportunity will come knocking. And I don't necessarily mean a sales opportunity. I mean any opportunity, including that of helping someone else without expecting anything in return. One never knows who THAT person may be or WHO that person may know. Other people’s circles of influence are crucial to successful networking.

  1. WHY Do You Need to Network?

As I said before, our society is such that we must interact with others, if for no other reason than survival. We all are in business to sell something, that is a given. And if we have something to sell, we need someone to sell it to. That is the very nature of conducting business. Therefore we must connect with others. We must communicate with others. Networking and networking events are conducive to that kind of interaction, they facilitate that process

  1. HOW to Network?

There is “Peter’s Principles” (people are promoted to the level of their incompetence) a book written by Canadian sociologist Dr. Laurence Johnston Peter which most good business people have read, or at least should have, and there is Danielle’s 4 Principle of Networking, which I call “The Disch” pronounced “dish”: Discover + Share + Communicate + Help. I can expand in detail on each principle.

  1. Why is networking so valuable?

It’s life changing! From a strict business standpoint, networking is word of mouth marketing and is still the best form of advertising. You need to incorporate networking in what ever business you do, whether it’s a product or service, you need to go out there and network.

Surrounding yourself with the right people can help every relationship in your life personal and business.

They say, to get ahead in life, it’s about often about who you know. So where do you find those you need to know? Through networking.

  1. What are some of the mistakes business people make when they network? Or is there a right or a wrong way to network?

There are tons of mistakes but I will focus on the top 3 mistakes many make when attending networking events.

The mishandling of business cards, those we give out, and those we receive (handing them over the wrong way, not looking at them when on the receiving end = lack of respect and courtesy, shoving cards in people’s face). I can expand on the proper technique to hand out or receive a business card. Networking without any business cards at all and/or refusing to hand out a business card when asked for it = unprofessional

The misconception that networking is about selling. Networking is not about selling, it is about building relationships. People buy from the people they like and trust. Networking is a process that takes time. Rushing/aggressive networking is counter productive. Networking is not about instant (sales) gratification it is about finding out about each other. The concept is not much different than dating, but on a different level. You want to see if there is a possible fit and the fit does not necessarily mean a sale to that very person, but possibly to that person’s second or ever 3rd tier in his/her circle of influence.

Networking is not about you, it’s about them. People love to talk about themselves, and most of us are guilty of being so wrapped up in our widget that we talk the other person to death. Listening is much more valuable as it helps you gather information, and it helps put the other person at ease with you, hence it fosters the development of the relationship

  1. I often hear some people are born great networkers; must you be born with networking skills or can you acquire them?

I will give an example of a totally introvert person who was a very poor networker and who, in just 2-3 months turned that totally around to become known as an expert networker, and the impact on that person’s life, both personally and professionally.

  1. Social networking is rapidly becoming very popular. Do you consider that to be a viable way to network, of face to face networking remains necessary?

Networking can be done in many different ways, boots on the ground, through social networking sites, and with the advancement of technology, you can even network and interact LIVE with others while doing a “show & tell” of your business and widget from the comfort of your own home or office, saving precious time and gas money in the process. And you can do that locally, national and internationally, to a vast audience at one time (i.e. T.A.N. O.N.E – The Art of Networking Online Networking Events). In all forms of networking, the key remains your own demeanor, how you personally interact with others, how you conduct yourself, how you are perceived. All forms of networking are viable if your interact with others in a courteous, respectful and professional manner, without being pushy and without playing the game of “one upsmanship”.

Do yourself a favor. Consider getting involved with T.A.N. O.N.E. I can think of no better way to position yourself and your business for mega success.

Visit today.