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

Interview with Chris Cree – New Media Speaker & Systemizer

Chris Cree - New Media Speaker & SystemizerChris Cree founded and heads up SuccessCREEations, Inc., which focuses on new media systems, strategy and training. His background includes flying with the US Navy, and nearly 15 years working on and around ocean going cargo ships. At the end of 2007 Chris walked away from his career in the Maritime industry to grow his company.

Chris is a life long professional navigator, in planes, ships and on the web. His new media strategy training videos are available at NewMediaProfitPath.com.

Josh Hinds: How do you define Business Networking and why do you feel it’s important?

Chris Cree: From my perspective, business networking is simply just being interested in people and being nice to them while you go about your business. Without it, I wouldn’t even have a business!

Up to this point, nearly three years into my business, I have never paid for advertising. All of my business has come in through networking in one form or another. Sure, I’m heavy into social media. But I also do “analog” networking face-to-face as well.

I think networking is important for everyone in business because business is about people. Some might argue that business is about money. But where does that money come from? People.

Even solo entrepreneurs will be more successful when they have a team of people around them. When we network effectively it is much easier to connect with good vendors, get the word out about our products and services and find answers to questions that we all run into during the course of running our businesses.

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

Chris Cree: Go find friends instead of sales prospects. If you go out looking for prospects you may come away with nothing. But if you go looking for friends instead you will probably find some. And, in time, they may well connect you with “pre-warmed” leads.

Because here’s the thing. I generally find that it’s not the people I meet that end up being my customers. Usually it ends up being someone the people I meet know and refer to me that become my customers.

It’s know who you know that counts. It’s who they know.

So the more friends you make the greater your circle of influence becomes. Your customer base will grow as a result.

Too many people are way too impatient about seeing results from their networking. When we’re talking about people, it takes time and effort to build a relationship.

Yes, there is such a thing as love at first sight. But to have a marriage that lasts takes time and effort to build the relation ship.

The impatient types fixate on transactions and try to force things so they happen quickly. They usually do see more sales initially. But most of the time they end up burning out their contact lists and have to spend more time meeting more new people.

I prefer a more relational approach. I still look to see transactions happen, don’t get me wrong. But when I go looking to for friends I find more folks who are glad to give me referrals time and time again. That means my sales pipeline is fuller now with less effort than it’s ever been. And it also means that it will be fuller, with even less effort in the future!

As a bonus tip people should get a copy of Dale Carneghie’s classic book, How To Win Friends and Influence People. Read that book and implement what it says to do. Doing that will truly make it easier to “make people like you.”

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

Chris Cree: Sure. About a year and a half ago a friend of my passed along a link to a blog post to me because she thought I’d find it interesting. I really liked what I read so I shared a link to that post on Twitter and Facebook.

The post was by Bob Burg and anyone who knows him won’t be surprised to hear that he thanked me personally for sharing a that post with my network. However it surprised me and I told him so. A dialog ensued and Bob told me about a conference he was putting on and invited my wife and I to attend.

At that conference I hired a business coach who has helped me take my business to the next level. I met a ton of new friends. I was invited back again this past year, but this time as a speaker instead of an attendee. The second year I picked up some new clients and connected with some folks that potentially may become joint venture partners.

That’s what I call networking! And it all started because someone in my network was thinking about me and knew me well enough to pass along a blog post that I would appreciate.

Who could know that one thoughtful act would kick off a whole networking chain of events that is still going and growing!

And that’s my point about networking. You never do know where it’s going to go in the end. But if you don’t get out there and network you never will find out!

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