My CNBC Africa interview on Business Networking

MANDLAKAZI MPAHLWA host Kaleidoscope CNBC AfricaOn Wednesday I will be interviewed for the 2nd time on the Kaleidoscope show on CNBC Africa. The focus was on business networking and social networking. Here’s some of the what I covered in the interview with Mandlakazi Mpahlwa:

MM: How does a delegate begin to Network?

RT: Learn to ask questions. You do not have to have all the answers but if you can ask good questions you allow the other person to open up and tell you what’s most important to them. Once you know what’s important to them you can link what you have to offer to that. And that could be another person in your social network (not something you are selling). Building trust should be your #1 objective.

MM: When and where should one Network?

RT: You should network everywhere. Therefore you must always, always carry your business cards with you. And don’t wait for the other person to ask for it. After speaking to someone for a few minutes give them your card. Now when they give you there card DO NOT put it away immediately. In Japan its customary to accept a business cards using both hands and bow. And then you keep the card in your hand UNTIL the other person puts it away. By glancing at the card you can begin to remember the person’s name before putting it away. And also looking at the info on their card you can make fairly accurate guesses on the nature of their business. I have networked with people in book stores, coffee shops, conferences, parties, the plane, buses, you name it. There is not perfect place.

MM: What are the No-No’s when networking at a function / conference?

RT: The biggest mistake is trying to sell somebody on your products or services. People are coming together to meet and network to help them solve problems not to buy something. That always comes later. You have to listen, ask questions and once you have an understanding of their pains you can make suggestions. The key is taking time to build trust and find out what’s most important to the other person.

MM: What tools does one require to successfully network?

RT: You can use online tools like LinkedIn, Facebook or MyGenius to manage your growing network of business or social connections. It’s important to touch base with people within the 1st week after meeting them and then once every 90 days. In additional your email software like Mozilla Thunderbird or Microsoft Outlook can help you keep track of birthdays and you can go as far as sending automated emails using a CRM system.

For me LinkedIn is the most powerful business networking website because:

  • it has very strict built in privacy management so you cannot spam people
  • it has very high quality members: many CEOs, Directors or Specialists
  • over 35,000 South African business people
  • A goldmine for research, competitive intelligence in the LinkedIn Answers

On the other hand Facebook floods your Inbox with more information than most people can handle, even though you can turn it off. Also many of my business connections are on Facebook, however, they use it to share more personal experiences like family photos, etc.

A Networking Example:

If I meet you at a function and you tell me you’re in the media and you have your own show, etc. I will tell you about some people I’ve met who I think will make good guests. So I’m not saying you should interview Me. I’m suggesting other people and other things in which I’ve have no vested interest. What I’m doing here is playing the connector role. I’m helping people connect the dots. I always play my own role, my own abilities down. I’m being humble.

You may be interested in my business social networking workshop.  You will learn how to become more interesting, improving your social intelligence, increasing the depth of your business relationships and most importantly substantially improving the results you get from business networking.

 

Author: RJ Thomas

RJ Thomas is an International Relationship Builder. He was born in South Africa, and moved to China in 2013.

  • Dear Ramon

    I have read your interview ith interest and I agree that the goal when going to network is not selling but to make connections. Great business networking listen 60% of the time and speak 40% of the time. They should ask open ended questions such as “Tell me how did you hear about this event?” “How long are you in your current position?” etc.

    My expertise is in face-to-face business networking and referral coaching and I love your insight into on-line tools to network.

    Warm regards
    Karl Smith
    South Africa’s Business Networking & Referral Coach.

     
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