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

Stuart Tan interview – NLP Trainer and Corporate Consultant

Stuart Tan is one of Singapore’s foremost NLP trainers and peak performance specialists. He is a highly sought-after motivational speaker and corporate consultant in training and development. You can reach him at www.StuartTan.com

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

Stuart Tan: Business networking is about looking out for and acting in the interests of other people, while holding on tightly to the people who are looking out for you by building a deeper understanding of them and reciprocating.

Our environment controls us to an extent that we are not aware of. You behave in constant reaction to your surroundings. So, it’s essential for you to create an environment that is suitable for you.

We are influenced heavily by the people around us. More importantly, their ideas can become thought viruses. Do you want to hang out with people who have a negative outlook of life? Or would you rather hang out with high achievers?

Since people affect us, we might as well find people who affect us in a powerful way.

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

Stuart Tan: The first thing is to never network more than you can respond. It’s literally a sin. By building deep and intimate understanding with a few people, it helps you create a high quality in the relationship. I’ve seen people spend 10 seconds with people and make their business decisions just based on that. I mean, what kind of a moron does that?

A lot of people take business networking like some kind of commodity to be traded. If we simply started to treat people as people, be sensitive to their needs and empathize with them, it would be easier to find that networking isn’t as mercenary as some people put it out to be.

Josh: We hear a lot about the importance of creating value for the people who we want to develop strong networking connections with. Can you share some ways people can go about creating value in the eyes of those they want to cultivate stronger working relationships with?

Stuart Tan: That’s a simple question. By paying attention to what they have ahead of them, and helping to make the way easier for them.

Don’t just say you’ll support them, surprise them with action. If someone wanted to launch a product, do a pre-launch to help them with the buzz. You can take initiative and still benefit from it by simply feeling good that you’ve done a good thing.

Josh: Can you share some of the ways you use the internet for business networking?

Stuart Tan: Twitter is a great platform to use. Social networks like Facebook and MySpace are also great. I usually seek out interesting people to interview, just like what you’re doing, Josh. This not only helps me to learn a thing or two, it also gives me a bit of time to really connect with my interviewees.

More importantly, I’ve learnt about the importance of conversations and what this does to us. It’s no longer putting up a blog post, or a newsletter. It’s about the “back and forth” interaction. We need that. As humans, I think we crave that.

Once I get to know people, I don’t jump in and ask for a business contact. Okay, that may be stupid to some people, but I really need to know enough about someone to actually do something with them. That way, I can anticipate what to expect.

Josh: Can you share a personal “networking” success story with us?

Stuart Tan: I have a few funny stories to tell about people I networked with in the men’s room. Won’t mention names, but as a newbie, it was great to have a captive expert in the urinal next to me and I just had lots of questions answered.

In 2006, I had the chance to meet Alex Mandossian because the person who was his event organizer had spoken to me and my partner about doing something together. I later volunteered information that helped to increase back of room conversions. Alex later offered to speak if I could organize a group of people (he was practicing), so I had 118 people registered in 4 days of promotions due to the “partnership”.

This paved the way to more things to come. It was July 2007 when Jay Conrad Levinson was in Malaysia delivering a training program. I volunteered to emcee the event (something I learnt from Alex) and ended up making friends with the Father of Guerilla Marketing, and had the great fortune to spend some time being educated in the ways of guerilla marketing staying at his place in Florida just this year in June. He’s an awesome guy to learn about life – not just marketing – from.

Josh: Stuart, thank you again for doing the interview. If there are any other ideas on this topic which you think are worth including please go ahead and include them.

Stuart Tan: Yeah you’re welcome. I just wanted to add that some people might think that networking is not “them”. That’s just sad. If you didn’t network, you’d be a social outcast.

Maybe that’s just your comfort zone, and I guarantee that your quality of life is just not going to improve. Anthony Robbins once said the quality of your life is the quality of your communication. I’ll add on to say the quality of your life is determined by the quality of your connection and connectedness.

I used to be introverted, and thought I was a social outcast in school. Just because you think you are introverted does not give you the excuse to not network. Introverts network in warmer and deeper ways, and allow you to forge stronger and deeper relationships.

Wherever you are, whatever you do, network for networking’s sake. Expand your thinking by meeting people who think in different ways than you. You’ll be wiser for it, and you’ll be grateful for it someday when you connect the dots looking back.

— Happy Networking! Josh Hinds

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