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

Interview with Anna Farmery of The Engaging Brand Company

Anna Farmery runs The Engaging Brand blog — as well as a weekly podcast on leadership. Anna also coaches people on how to build a personal brand.

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

Anna Farmery: Business is about creating value of course in terms of profit however, profit is achieved by creating value in people’s lives through products, services and also as an employment experience. Networking is a vital part of creating, and also understanding, what people determine as value ‘to them’.

It creates connections, connections that can expand your knowledge, your understanding, your skills, your ability to find talent that will take your company forward. It is so easy to be insular at work – I always say to people “Make sure that you are carrying binoculars not a magnifying glass!” – networking is a great example of keeping your mind open to other ideas.

If you think about it a business is a large collection of human beings and human beings need emotional connections. Encouraging connections increases the ability of people to relate to you and your company.

People want to feel understood, cared for and valued. Networking is a visible way of doing this and the “pay off” to you, is that as you connect, people enjoy the experience and want to find out more about you. Business needs people – people to buy from them, people to work for them, people to sell for them through word of mouth. Networking is a way of building evangelists for both your company and your own unique leadership brand.

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

Anna Farmery: To see networking as a way of creating value for others and not as a way of collecting contacts. The strength of your network is not in the numbers, it is in the level of commitment to each other. Networking is about creating relationships which either of you can call on when you need support, learning, etc.

By creating value for others you increase your “attractiveness” to people. When you see networking as a way of increasing your personal brand through creating value for others, you increase your worth to the connections that you make. So when you meet someone in person, on the telephone, on-line…. ask yourself and the other person what can I do for you? How can I help you? The result is that the other person enjoys the relationship, and will see the value that you will bring them.

Josh: Can you share some of the ways you use the internet for business networking?

Anna Farmery: For me the internet is a wonderful resource for expanding your mind. I am passionate about blogging and podcasting as a way of connecting with people.

On my blog – The Engaging Brand – I use tools such as mybloglog, mychingo and linkedIn to connect with both the readers and listeners.

The power comes when you can create discussion, a conversation with other people. This dialogue gives you further insight into how others perceive your ideas.

My tip would be to choose 3-4 networking tools and create an action plan for each. There are many tools out there, but focus upon the ones that will help you achieve your personal goal.

Set time aside to understand how you want to use the tools to build your network. All of this needs an end in mind. If your goal is to find another job, build your own company, develop worldwide contacts – it doesn’t matter, but choose the on-line sites that will allow you to fulfil that aim. The internet is powerful but only if you have a clear focus of what you want to achieve.

In my opinion, building a personal brand will become more and more important and networking is a fantastic way of making sure that your talents don’t go unnoticed.

-You can visit Anna Farmery at http://theengagingbrand.typepad.com.

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