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

Gary Schoeniger – author, educator and entrepreneur

Speaker, author and entrepreneur Gary Schoeniger has spent more than ten years chronicling the insights and exploits of everyday entrepreneurs to create a series of life-changing seminars, education and coaching programs for small business owners and emerging entrepreneurs.

Certified as an instructor by the National Foundation For Teaching Entrepreneurship, Gary is also currently involved in creating entrepreneurial education programs for high school and undergraduate students.

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

Gary Schoeniger: Like others, I define networking without the business distinction. It’s a philosophy, a way of life that stems from a genuine need to connect and collaborate, an innate curiosity and a desire to help others, even when it isn’t likely to benefit us.

To small business owners, networking is an essential skill. (Why they don’t teach this stuff in high school is beyond me). Networking is also a critical component of what Seth Godin refers to as “viral” marketing.

Rarely do we learn about a new product or service through traditional “interruption” marketing such as newspaper, radio or television advertising. We learn about cool new things through our network of cool friends.

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

Gary Schoeniger: In Stephen R. Covey’s 7 Habits, habit five says: “seek first to understand, then to be understood”. In this habit he describes the four levels of listening; ignoring, pretending, selective listening, or attentive listening.

Covey suggests we should learn to listen using the fifth, highest form of listening – empathic listening.

By understanding the other person, we can learn to understand them through their own view of the world and begin to truly understand their needs. We can’t effectively prescribe a solution for a problem we haven’t accurately diagnosed.

Networking is about social intelligence. People need to feel understood.

Josh: How do you encourage referrals from your network?

Gary Schoeniger: By delivering on my commitments and building relationships. By being remarkable, demonstrating genuine passion and enthusiasm for the work that I do and by being a cool friend.