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

Interview with Jeffrey Phillips of the blogs Thinking Faster and Innovate on Purpose

Jeffrey Phillips is a VP with NetCentrics and OVO. NetCentrics helps its clients improve team productivity and collaboration through consulting and software applications, while OVO focuses on improving the ability of any firm to improve idea management and innovation for new revenue growth and profit.

Jeffrey writes the Thinking Faster blog and the Innovate on Purpose blog and works with customers to improve innovation, collaboration and teamwork. His most recent article “Innovate on Purpose” was published in September in the Harvard Management Update.

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

Jeffrey Phillips: Many people think of “networking” as meeting as many people as possible in your professional sphere. While this may be a valid definition, I think real networking is understanding what other people do and where your interests or capabilities align with theirs, or complement theirs.

When you understand what other people do and what interests them, you will find many opportunities to introduce them to prospects, colleagues and friends. In my experience, it is the warm reference that wins trust and ultimately leads to many new opportunities.

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

Jeffrey Phillips: When I create a new networking relationship and have established some trust with that person, I will ask them to think of 3 people that they know that I don’t who might be valuable to meet. Then I’ll ask for an introduction to those people.

Again, I seek warm references to people with mutual interests and capabilities, so I’m less interested in an exceptionally broad network but a tight, deep, cohesive network. Of course, this needs to be reciprocal, so I will also introduce my trusted colleagues to people I think they will find valuable or interesting.

Josh: How do you keep track of your networking contacts? Do you have any particular system in place for managing your business networking relationships?

Jeffrey Phillips: Lately I’ve started to use LinkedIn as a method to track contacts. I also use and contact management within Outlook, depending on the nature of the relationship and the frequency of contact. More and more I find I am using LinkedIn due to its extensibility and the fact that it is searchable and I can see the relationships that my contacts have with other people.

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