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

Alan Smith Interview – CEO Oprius Software Inc

Alan Smith is the CEO of Oprius Software, a provider of simple, web- based sales tools for network marketing professionals. He was previously a senior partner in an aerospace engineering company and has worked with an international nonprofit organization raising funds and training leaders.

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

Alan Smith: Business Networking to me is the creation of symbiotic, mutually beneficial relationships. Many people make the mistake of thinking that networking is just showing up at a place with a lot of people, exchanging cards, and finding people that will help them get ahead. To be frank, I find most “Networking Events” to be fruitless unless there are already people that you know going to the event that you want to see and build a relationship with.

Real networking is the art of building long term relationships. This can’t be done at an event and certainly takes a fair amount of time. It’s not about how many people you can get to know, it’s about how deeply you know them. Great relationships take time, and you need to take that time to allow the relationship to grow before you ever think of asking them to do something for you or participate in what you are doing.

Learning to network is one of the most important things you will ever do. I have never been involved in anything huge that has not been the work of multiple people. To accomplish anything in this world you need others and they need you. If you think you know it all, you’re wrong and without input, partnership, and guidance from other people you will accomplish very little in your life.

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

Alan Smith: Focus on the relationships you already have. The first step in being a great networker is to make sure that the relationships that you have are solid. Spend time getting to know the people you already network with so that they feel more like good friends than someone that you have to work with. Once you have solidified those relationships you will find that others naturally appear.

The people you know will start introducing you to other people and then all you have to do is follow up on them. It’s about building relationships more than numbers. Once I know someone well and have a great relationship with them I can then ask them if there is anyone they think I should meet. This way it’s not awkward and they know that I’m not just using them to get to someone.

Josh: Do you see any common mistakes people tend to make when it comes to attempting to make business connections? If so what are they and what corrections could they make in your opinion which would help them to be more effective in their approach towards networking?

Alan Smith: DON’T BE A USER! I see far to often people that view others as only a means to an end. I have seen people who strategize about how to get to a contact they want and then end up leaving a trail of broken relationships in their path. It’s not about that. No matter where you go, what you do, or who you are, people are the most valuable things in your life.

I believe that you need to care about other people as much as you care about yourself. Get to know your contacts. I would even go as far as to say that depth is far more important than quantity when it comes to your relationships.

Josh: Your company Oprius Software has a unique system for helping people keep up with and manage contacts/customer relationships (note to readers: I’m on the advisory board, and use it myself) can you take a moment to tell us about it. For example, how did the idea come about and what are some of the features and benefits someone can expect to gain by using it.

Alan Smith: I think that our system is an amazingly simple tool for people to use to manage their relationships and sales campaigns. As you know our software is designed for people in the Network Marketing or MLM industry, which is all about relationships (note: it’s also an excellent tool for people who operate in other industries outside of network marketing where they need to manage their contact relationships). Your contacts are the most valuable asset you have in that industry.

The idea started after one of the founders’ friends got into the industry and couldn’t find a piece of software that was simple to use, yet powerful enough to do what was needed. We decided that we would solve this issue with a hosted application that was simple to use and not so feature rich to be overwhelming.

A great example of this is the fact that we only use groups, not groups and categories like other software. Traditionally groups were only for contacts and categories were system wide. Instead of the user having to think ahead about when to use which system, we just made the software smart. It will treat your group however you decide to use it. We are also graduating the payment process so that you can start with the free offering and add more features as you need them. The free system is available now for use and for $5.00 a month you can add the email section to it with a list mailer. The rest of our feature set will be launched this summer.

We have worked very hard with our product advisory board to simplify every aspect of the software so you can spend your time doing what’s important instead of sitting in front of your computer. I could go on and on about every aspect of the software, but people should just go check it out themselves. After all it’s free! I am confident that they will find a powerful system that is simple to use and growing in functionality.

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