Srirupa Dasgupta interview – Author of Effortless Networking
Sri has been educated as computer scientist, artist and coach, and has over 10 years of experience as a senior manager within the corporate sector and 5 years of experience as a small business owner.
Josh: How do you define Business Networking and why do you feel it is important?
Srirupa Dasgupta: Most people think of business networking as the reciprocal process of exchanging leads, referrals and recommendations, with other people to make the business process easier and more profitable.
I think of “networking” simply as a means to an end.
It is the process of connecting with other people for help or information, and using it to accomplish a goal. (By the way, most of us network everyday in our personal lives without thinking about it or labeling it.)
This means that you can use networking to achieve any goal you have.
In the business context, this means that you don’t have to limit yourself to exchanging leads and referrals. You can use it to get information, do market research, find publicity or joint venture opportunities, recruit a “Board of Directors” or a “Mastermind” group for yourself so you can turn to them for expert advice or professional guidance when you need it, and so on.
Networking, whether for business or personal reasons, is important and necessary because no one can accomplish anything alone. We need other people and their help, both professionally and personally.
As I mentioned, “networking” is a natural part of life (and therefore business too).
And your “network”, simply put, is the group of people with whom you have built a relationship over a common interest. These are the people you turn to for help when you need it, just as each of these people turn to you when they need your help.
Josh: Can you share one idea that someone could put into practice that would help them to improve their business networking skills?
Srirupa Dasgupta: As I mentioned, most of us network everyday as a natural part of life. So here’s a very simple way to improve your networking skills:
1. Pay attention to how you network in your personal life.
2. Then use the same approach in the professional context.
For instance, if you want to to buy a house or sell your car, what do you do? Do you turn to someone you know for advice on how to do so? Do you ask for recommendations for realtors or car dealers or places to post an ad?
Since you already probably have a preferred way to to find information, get advice, meet new people, etc. in your personal life, using a similar approach for professional reasons is not a big leap. Further, it takes the stress out of networking, and makes the whole process natural, easy and effective.
Josh: How do you encourage referrals from your network?
Srirupa Dasgupta: I ask directly. And I make timely requests, such as telling people when I have an opening for a new client.
However, I carefully select whom I ask.
First, I only ask those whom I know well (i.e. my network). These are people with whom I have a long-term relationship, who know me and my work well, whom I’ve either helped out in some way in the past or who know they can call on me whenever they need my help in any way.
Second, I make sure that the people I’m asking are both willing and able to do what I’m asking for. This is important, because people´s priorities and situations change, and along with it their ability and/or willingness to make referrals can change as well.
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