Note from Jimmy Hua: I can never stress enough about networking. Networking is one of the keys to a successful business. By keeping in touch with people, they will think of your business when they think of services they need. It is important, because reoccurring business comes from people that have a good impression of you. Which partially means how in touch you are.
This post is shared through my Google Reader from another source. All credit of the post belongs to them which you can access by going to Five Ways to Take Charge of Your Own Networking – TheStreet.
Among large companies — take Google and HP, for instance — there’s a trend to create a new executive-level role called Chief Networking Officer. Some businesses call the role Community Manager.
Whatever you choose to call it, the CNO is the person who handles business networking and community-related activities, and the responsibilities range from developing word-of-mouth campaigns to referral-generation strategies. Other roles of the CNO include client relationship management, public relations, inter-departmental collaboration, corporate culture and relationship advertising and marketing.
In this article, I will focus on two roles of the CNO: word-of-mouth campaigns and referral-generation strategies. If you want to network like a pro, these roles should be the principal focus of your CNO.
First, let’s address the thought that probably just popped into your head: “Hey, I run a 10-person (four-person/one-person) organization; how can I afford to hire a CNO to do my networking? Quite frankly, there never seem to be enough resources to take care of all the things the business needs, let alone hire an executive-level person.”
But you don’t have to hire a new executive. As the business owner, you’re probably filling that job in one way or another already. Here are five actions you can take to be the Chief Networking Officer for your company.
1. Participate in two to three networking events each month, and follow up with people you meet. As a smart, enterprising businessperson, you already know the importance of networking and how vital it is to meet new people. However, one of the biggest mistakes people make is failing to follow up.
By adopting a CNO mindset, you recognize that meeting new folks while networking is just the first step toward generating more word-of-mouth business. The second step is meeting them later over coffee or lunch to learn more about their business and how you can help them. When you do that, you pave the way for future referral business.
2. Touch base with past business contacts by making two personal phone calls each week. Again, if you’re like me, you’ve got so much going on that the thought of making two more phone calls is almost too much. But remember, a CNO’s job is maintaining relationships and generating referrals. And that can’t happen unless you stay in touch.
3. Use postcards and greeting cards to stay in touch with people throughout the year. A good time to do this is on annual holidays — and not just Christmas or New Year’s, but also St. Patrick’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day and Halloween.
Buy a pack of 20 cards and send them to people you’ve fallen out of touch with and with whom you’d like to reconnect — past clients, past vendors, a friend of a friend, another business owner you chatted with at your local coffee shop a few months ago. This will keep you foremost in these people’s minds.