Expert Advice On Business Networking And Tips On Developing Your Networking Skills

Interview with Dwayne Melancon of GenuineCuriosity.com

Dwayne Melancon is the author of Genuine Curiosity, where he shares his thoughts on business, technology, travel, self improvement, and personal productivity topics. By day, he is an IT process expert and VP of Corporate Development at Tripwire, Inc. where he builds productive and successful relationships between his company and others.

Josh: How do you define Business Networking and why do you feel it is important?

Dwayne Melancon: Business Networking to me means two things. First, it’s about using the resources available to you to find people who can help you achieve your business goals, and advance your cause. Second, it’s about becoming a better resource to others.

You can think about it like a power grid – once you’re plugged into the grid, sometimes you consume more than you make and other times you have more than you need so you give some back to others. That balance is important – if all you do is “take” from the network, you’ll significantly limit your own success, and devalue the network.

Business Networking is important because the landscape of business is becoming more fluid, and our use of technology has made the “connectedness” of business a strategic lever.

Business is really about people and relationships, so it makes sense that business can be a huge beneficiary. It’s easier than ever in human history to connect to huge communities of people.

Josh: Can you share one idea that someone could put into practice that would help them to improve their business networking skills?

Dwayne Melancon: My “one idea” is really a bundle of tips about how to approach people for the first time.

First, don’t be shy about reaching out to others and asking them for help. This was a hard thing for me to learn because I didn’t want to bother other people, and didn’t want to feel the rejection if they said no. I’ve found that, if you share your goals and motives with other people, they often *want* to help and don’t see it as a bother at all.

Do some research on the other person before you contact them so you can figure out what they might care about. This will help you create more of a win/win interaction because you can suggest areas where you might be able to help them.

If you get a “no”, don’t take it personally – this is where framing things in terms of your goals makes it easier. In that context, a “no” means they aren’t in a position to help with your goal – not that they don’t like you personally.

Finally, try to close the conversation in a way that allows future engagement. Ask if there is anything you can do to help with *their* goals, ask if they could direct you to anyone who might be able to help, etc.

Josh: For some people knowing where to go to network in the first place is a problem. Can you share some resources, events, or places that you have found helpful for meeting new people and growing your business network?

Dwayne Melancon: Some obvious places to start are local professional groups that focus on your area of business or interest. Online networking communities like LinkedIn can help, but its highest value (to me, at least) is to find out who can introduce you to people you want to get to, or provide me with background information before I reach out to someone new.

You can also find good connections (and help people at the same time) through church and community service organizations – remember, just about everyone in these organizations has a day job, and many of them can help you find people in their own network that might help you.

Another resource is the plethora of blogs on the net. If you can find a community of blogs that share some of the same interests, business domains, etc. that you care about this can be a great place to get new ideas and meet new people.

-You can visit Dwayne Melancon at GenuineCuriosity.com.

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