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

Michael F. Malfi – Director of Sales Development at Corporate Interior Solutions, Inc.

Michael F. Malfi is the Director of Sales Development at Corporate Interior Solutions, Inc., a full service office furniture dealership selling a variety of office furniture solutions. Michael is responsible for developing and maintaining corporate furniture accounts nationwide.

Josh: How would you define business networking and why do you feel it is important?

Michael F. Malfi: I was once told that business networking is connecting with people of like interests for the purpose of uncovering opportunities and learning of best practices.

Since I have entered the business world, I have come to realize that business networking is far more than merely “connecting” with an individual. I believe that it is a process where a mutually beneficial relationship is developed and cultivated to produce a relationship that will grow over time.

Networking is so important because business, especially in my industry (office furniture sales), is mostly done through word-of-mouth. Often individuals with buying power will turn to colleagues and business contacts to uncover who they have had dealings with in the past and ask how their experience was.

I always make sure that I “check-in” with old clients and contacts because they will likely refer me to my next sale.

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

Michael F. Malfi: The best advice that I can share is to join a networking group and maximize your time at the meetings. All the individuals at these meetings are interested in the same thing – to increase their business goals. These events are opportunities to get comfortable in an interactive business environment, generate new leads and learn how to listen to the needs of an individual.

I always remind colleagues before their first business networking meeting to think of it as a first date. You want to make a good impression and leave with a better understanding of the person. While not every date (or networking conversation) will net to a relationship it might teach you something about yourself or open a door to a new opportunity.

Josh: In your opinion, how can someone make the type of positive impression that leads to being remembered after the event or initial meeting?

Michael F. Malfi: People say it repeatedly but be honest and be yourself. People will trust you more if they believe they are meeting “Mike, the guy who sells office furniture and loves the NY Knicks” instead of “Michael F. Malfi, Director of Sales Development who only can speak about office chairs and desk lamps.”

I find that by intertwining personal conversation with business discussion you are more likely to make a lasting impression rather than an individual who went directly into their sales pitch.

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