Satish Bajaj, CEO and Principal Advisor, Global Inspirations, Adjunct Professor, writes about the long-term benefits of networking for professional success.

21 August 2017

Expert Talk
Good networking can lead to immense growth for any organisation as it brings about word of mouth publicity amongst the peer groups to push sales automatically.

But how should a professional go about networking? It therefore becomes very essential to know people to network onward. A single person group, where can he network? No where. Hence it becomes very important in life to know people to effectively network amongst them. This leads to building of Relationships to know and Network with them.

Networking today is the key to any business growth. The more you network with people the more you are able to reach your voice to other people as it leads to a chain of reactions or observations both positive and negative. The positive reactions and thoughts of the group leads to bigger network.

My journey in Networking started from school where I learnt to be friends with all, keeping away from the politics, discussing the positivity's of life and other interesting things. On Passing out, I had good friends who I could rely and trust upon and moved on to the journey of growth.

Studying further and specialising in the field of Sales and Marketing, I got the opportunity to work with a number of professionals, who always took interest in my seriousness and focussed approach. This was even Networking to me as I could build a lasting relationship with most of them. This was the start of my Commercial Networking Career.

Networking is an outcome, mainly of a Relationship that one develops with his clients, peers, family and the outside world. I have seen that one can develop a great relationship with another person in a coffee shop, store or any other location which can be nurtured over the years to build on a different Network for business benefits.

Time and again it has been proved that Network and Relationships can lead to Big Business Growth and the best example is of the stories that we hear from the Golf Courses and the Pubs.

I am no Golfer hence Networking and Building Relationships That Built Bonds over the years happened during my Sales and Marketing Career.

At Polynova, one of the companies I worked with in the late 90’s, the aggressive style of selling and marketing was never seen before for the industry which was ruled by the Distributors and CandF Agents. With tremendous resistance the market seemed very difficult but the faith to succeed and building of relationships with constant communication and personal contact, I could win over the confidence of the Agents, Distributors and Retailers. This slowly developed into a strong relationship bond and helped with their network and contacts wherever I went. Such was the Relationship with our Business Associates that we went way beyond our time and energies to help them gain a foothold in the market.

Networking vs. Relationship

Both Networking and Relationship Building leads to each other and complements one another. Networking usually helps in Building Relationships whereas Relationships help in building a Network. Psychologically it has been observed that a person visits a lot of places and interacts, in view of creating a network of people and such networks become important in the context of Business Relationships. When you are in constant touch with your networks and help them in their endeavours always you build a good relationships with them which slowly over a period of times bonds further and extends to the families, helping further in Networking. My Relationship of the past have helped me in growing my business to a great extent. Over a period of time I have always tried to maintain my relationships by keeping in touch and hence the success.

Building Relationships without Expectations

Usually observed, any individual prefers to Network for some benefits that may accrue immediately or later. It explicitly gets in our minds to derive growth and advantages from our contacts. A true relationship should bring about the element of trust and confidence which can bring about a person to seeking help from others. Not necessarily a person who you are Networking with, may be helpful in one’s business, but then he may know of people who may be interested and can be helpful in growing the business. It is therefore advisable that one should always give full introductions about oneself about the business to the your Network connections as it may lead to sharing of information with the interconnections. Surely some of them may be in need of such requirements. Also it is important to build a sense of comforting your relations, that you are around in times of his need. Therefore share and care without any expectations of any returns or references, if the relationships are built on trust, confidence and friendship it will automatically generate growth of references thereby growth of business.

Seek Advice

We always tend to advise more than listen to anyone. We have more trust on our mind and thoughts and feel our actions are the best. Hence our knowledge and experience in our fields and subjects are the best and we wish to show it as our strength and the best available information. However it has been proved very openly that you can truly build good relationships by being a good listener. By listening to someone you try and respect a person, for his thoughts and knowledge on his expertise, finding a guide and a mentor. When you seek some ones help, it leads to better bonding which leads to long term relationships.

Moreover as a listener, you tend to understand the feelings and the thought process of the person on the other side and also give him an opportunity to speak up his mind, which may have suppressed for lack of confidence. His field of knowledge may be different but it surely enhances your knowledge of the other subject or the topic of discussion. Such positive two way interaction builds trust and brings in long term friendship.
Awed by our Managing Director in Polynova, where I worked for a couple of years, it was always good to be a listener and learn more and more about his thoughts and experiences. I was considered as a person, who was not very understanding, because I lacked questioning, but things were simplified even more to make it more understandable to clarify and teach more. Listening helped in enhancing my knowledge.

One should offer help and support instead of being upfront in asking favours at an early stage of any business relationship including direct selling which seems rude and this may leads to loss of credibility too soon. “Can I be of any help” is the most rewarding sentence to generate bonds amongst people. Receive Occasionally but Give Consistently. Once you are able to generate confidence in the other person, he will automatically start having a dialogue on your business or the subject of your interest. Also you should be very authentic and genuine in your offering. Right and balanced judgement also plays a very important role, as then you are accepted as a true advisor in the future.

Share the Experiences of Life

Live experiences hold a lot of interest and meaning to all. The moment you step into the domain of sharing your thoughts coupled with the experience in a particular situation, it starts building interest and curiosity. It leads the other person to start thinking and imagining himself in a situation, which you are relating to. His mind, which is his own, including his attitude, nature and behavior starts seeking solutions from within to suit his type of the decision and what will be best for him in the situation. We always give examples and references of growth in the past to engage lively and to bring a person to a situation to imagine himself in a similar way. This brings in better results and bigger business growth.

Improve your Social Skills

Networking means meeting with people and interacting with them. You should communicate frequently and keep the dialogues on to engage fruitfully and long term. One should try and use his free time to engage and keep people engaged with their thoughts. Building Relationships should become a person’s way of life. Ideally a person should carry on the process of networking and connecting without a selfish, self-centred motive which may go forward to mutually beneficial relationships. Interact more together informally in the free time in the evenings or holidays to discuss and understand each other better and more. Slowly and gradually, one should get more personal in his approach to improve the bonding. Not only personal interactions are important for better networking and relationships, but even visibility regularly by way of pictures, notes, etc. also help greatly.

Did we ever realise the importance of Letters or Cards for wishes received in the hard copy form during our early days in life? People retained these for years with them as a souvenir; it did make an impact and brought back the photo memories of the persons it related to resulting in more closeness. Times have changed with the advent of digital media and social websites which has given a new framework altogether to social connectivity. We can now keep connected with all friends, family and business connections 24x7. Social sites like Facebook, etc. have connected back all who had lost touch ages back. Renewed energy can be seen in reconnecting and the bonds are even stronger. The reference circle being created out of this is amazingly huge and the overall family circle becomes very large. Imagine if one truly harnesses such contacts nurtured over years, the result is BUSINESS BOMB.

The Real Estate business that I follow now, operates only on references as no one wants to trust you with their big monies until and unless you are sure about its safety and growth. One satisfied client leads you to another one soon and the second person is already 60% convinced about your ability and capability.

Communicate Openly and Effectively

Generating confidence while speaking and discussing leads to attentive listeners, someone who is ready for your take. Explaining in an easy and simple manner always helps in better understanding of the subject. It always brings about some queries which may have a different viewpoint or something missing. Keep communicating effectively till you start seeing the positive signs of response in favour of the your reason of Business. We should try and build a curiosity with smart sharing of information that can motivate a person to get excited and happy to get into a business transaction. Communicating effectively is a powerful tool to convincing and developing Business Relationships.

Why is it said that Salesmen are effective speakers ? Because they don’t give up follow-up and communicate till they have closed the transaction. As I learnt from my Bosses earlier, be confident and communicate effectively to be able to sell Canned Air.

Allowing Access to your Network

This brings about a big benefit to all in the Network as one is able to access all persons from different fields and discipline to provide guidance and help in their respective specialised domain. This makes it always easier for others as you find comfort level to operate in the area. Also try and share your knowledge because it leads to even better understanding with everyone contributing to the thoughts or be critical. Create meaningful connections for others to Network with the right kind of people who can be helpful at the time of any issues or distress.

Transparency in what you do

Most important reason of building a great and long term relationship leading to bigger Networking is the transparency in any Transaction. It always builds confidence and credibility in the minds of the Client and the trust that you can do the transaction and keep them safe and secure. The above findings are my own personal thoughts, that I have experienced and learned over the years of working in the corporate zone, also as an independent entrepreneur.