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

Rajesh Setty interview – Entrepreneur, Author and Teacher

Rajesh Setty currently serves as the president of Foresight Plus, LLC., Foresight Plus partners with businesses and individuals to provide them an unfair and sustainable competitive advantage.

As an entrepreneur, he is involved in several businesses in some combination of investor, board member and/or an operating executive. The companies that he is involved include but not limited to Suggestica, iPolipo, Compassites and CIGNEX.

As an author, he has written and published several books, his latest book “Beyond Code” (foreword by Tom Peters) was published in late 2005. He is a sought after speaker in conferences and within companies on topics that include but not limited to Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Distinguishing Yourself and Open Source.

Note: While there are a number of excellent ideas shared in the following interview, pay special attention to the point Rajesh makes about building long-term relationships. In my humble opinion that one piece of advice is priceless.

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

Rajesh Setty: It seems like Business Networking refers to connecting with other people to create mutual business benefits. While there is nothing wrong with that, personally for me, it’s all about building long-term relationships.

A long-term relationship is one of the biggest competitive advantages you can get just because of the sheer fact that long-term relationships take a long time to build.

Most people focus on who should they connect to so that they can get some short-term benefits. That might work but it will work for a short time only. There is hardly any leverage in that approach.

Building long-term relationships is hard work but the rewards associated with it make it all worth it.

Josh: Rajesh, can you share one or two ideas that someone could put into practice that would help them to improve their business networking skills?

Rajesh Setty: Of course, I would be happy to. Here are few things to consider:

1. Building a strong identity: Most people think about strategies and tactics to get close to people that are powerful while conveniently forgetting that by continuously investing in themselves (to build a strong identity in the marketplace) they can “become” that someone that others crave to get close to.

2. Stop making requests and start creating opportunities: One of the other mistakes people do is that they think – once they get to know other people, they can make some requests off of them. It may be true. But you should always remember that if you make an unreasonable number of requests or you stretch this in any other way, you become a liability to that person. You never want to be a liability for anyone.

What could you do instead? For one, you can start creating opportunities for everyone in your relationships. If you say that’s hard work, I will agree without any hesitation 🙂 However, once you start thinking in this fashion, there is no looking back for you. Think about this for a second. Imagine, in your own life if there was someone who was always looking at creating opportunities for you, wouldn’t want to get close to them? Or, better yet – wouldn’t you want to do something good back to them?

3. Connect people and disengage: No relationship is exclusive. If you know that amongst your relationships, two people should meet so that they can benefit mutually, take the initiative and connect both of them and disengage.

Remember, that you are not brokering the deal but merely connecting and disengaging. How will this benefit you? Well, for one, the more people you connect, the more connections will flow your way which is a good thing in itself.

Josh: How do you follow up with the people you meet? Do you have any particular system in place for keeping up and managing the relationships in your business network?

Rajesh Setty: It all starts with attitude. In simple terms, if you want to build a relationship with another person, you have to care for what the other person cares deeply about. Not pretending but genuinely caring. Any tactics that minus the caring will not be very effective. In fact, powerful people can and will see through any of your tactics.

Frequency of contact is important but what’s more important is the relevance. If you are just connecting for the sake of keeping in touch with them, you are being a liability for the other person. Everyone is busy and if you are not relevant to them, they will quickly demonstrate an attention deficit disorder and waste your time as well.

I don’t have a well-defined system or software for this purpose. However, I can share a practice that has served me well. Whenever someone is speaking, I observe and watch out for three things – what are they very good at (their expertise), what do they care about and what projects they are working on. Once I know this, I am looking to see if I can connect them with some other person in my network for mutual benefit. In most cases, I WILL make some connections and watch how that relationship blossoms. If both parties benefit from that connection, I have done my job. If not, I try to learn what went wrong and refine the process a bit further to get better at it.

-You can visit Rajesh Setty at http://blog.lifebeyondcode.com.

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