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

Lynn Pierce interview – Speaker and Author

Lynn Pierce, the Success Architect, has taught people how to combine business and personal development to reach the pinnacle of success and live the life of their dreams for over 25 years. In addition, she is also the founder of one of the most exciting annual events for women entrepreneurs, “Women’s Business Empowerment Summit”.

She shares her keys to success and life mastery in “Breakthrough to Success; 19 Keys to Mastering Every Area of Your Life” and on her blog at YourBreakthroughToSuccess.com/blog.

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

Lynn Pierce: Business networking to me is building rapport first and then building a relationship based on how you can support someone else before you ever consider asking them to do anything for you.

Relationships are what life is all about and your business is an extension of who you are. The way you network is just your way of showing you care about other people. Nothing is more important than that.

It’s not about how many business cards you can hand out or how great of an elevator speech you’ve created to tell people what you do.

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

Lynn Pierce: The first rule is to be sincerely interested in the people you meet, really want to get to know them.

It’s important to bond with the person you are meeting and really connect with them personally, not just as a representation of their business. This is accomplished the same way in business as in becoming friends socially.

Find areas of commonality by asking questions in a conversation that show you are sincerely interested in who the other person is. Forget about the business end of it at this point. If you develop a real relationship, the business side of it will come easily.

I know I’m very shy in situations where I don’t know people and lots of other people are nervous about standing alone and not knowing how to start a conversation. They would really appreciate you walking up to them and helping them to feel more comfortable by asking them about something they will enjoy talking about. It only takes 1 or 2 questions to find that commonality.

In the 25 year career I had in sales the way I always found myself at the top year after year was because I was able to build relationships instantly.

It’s a learned skill of being sincerely interested in people and how you can help them. It’s also learning how to ask the questions that will engage the other person in a real conversation, not one that sounds like a sales pitch.

You also network through the first impression you create, it’s another point of bonding.

In person, the first impression you create is with your body language and the way you dress, before you say a word. Online or in print your photo does the talking for you before someone reads or listens to a word you say.

Always use your photo where you can, not out of vanity but as a point of connection. People feel they know you when they can see you.

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

Lynn Pierce: On my blog, in my ezine, on Facebook and Twitter when I interact with someone, I treat it as a conversation and approach that conversation the same way I would in person.

People need to connect with the real person, not just the expert or business owner. People don’t connect with businesses, they connect with people. They also don’t choose to do business with you unless they feel that connection.

I learned in the first year of writing articles for my ezine that some of the things people remembered the longest were stories about my life. That’s because those are the points of personal connection that allow people to feel like you have things in common and you understand each other.

It’s really important to be conversational and to be real. You don’t want to finally talk on the phone or meet in person and find out that the person you connected with was not who you thought they were.

When people meet me I want them to feel like they already know me from reading what I write.

I would never let an assistant do blog comments or facebook comments or tweets for me. I don’t care how familiar they are with the way I speak, they can’t get in my head and respond authentically the way I would respond.

In my opinion, hiring someone or automating the process goes against the whole reason for networking, which is to build a relationship. You can’t build a relationship if you’re not even really there.

Josh: How do you generally engage a person in conversation upon first meeting them? I realize this is a bit of an open ended question, so let’s assume it’s someone you’ve just met in a semi-professional setting such as at an event, or local Chamber of Commerce type of meeting.

Lynn Pierce: I would introduce myself and ask them about their experience with this event or group to initially break the ice. Normally that’s all it takes to build a conversation based on their experience and then sharing how my experience has something in common with theirs, or how I can help them feel more comfortable at the event. I would never start with, “What do you do?”

In the rare instances where there’s nothing to talk about from their answer I can always find another question to ask to discover a commonality we can build a conversation on. It can be something as simple as asking if they live nearby. That question fits almost any networking event you find yourself at. And the conversation flows from listening to what they say in their response that you can build on.

It’s so much easier with Twitter because you can just join in a conversation that’s already taking place. You can make connections quickly by commenting, connecting and sharing who you are.

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

Lynn Pierce: Networking through relationship building has been the source of just about everything I’ve accomplished in my business. When I first started on my path of becoming an author and speaker I quickly became friends with people considered to be gurus. I think it was because I met them as real people I was interested in instead of the “guru”.

Those personal relationships opened business doors because they recognized my sincere interest in them as a friend and not a means to an end. In many instances I was able to connect them with people they hadn’t met. So don’t ever think you have nothing to offer to someone you perceive to be on a higher level in business.

With online networking, last year I offered two speakers I had met on Facebook opportunities to speak at Women’s Business Empowerment Summit. I had 5 other speakers referred to me by people I had met on Facebook. Learning how to effectively network benefits everyone.

– Happy Networking, Josh Hinds 🙂
(Connect with me on Facebook or Twitter)

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  • Beverly

    Hey, great blog post. Very timely and solid information.

    Best and continued professional luck, Beverly Mau http://www.beverlymau.com

  • Josh Hinds

    I’m glad you enjoyed the interview Beverly. I hope you will drop by here often.