I have had to learn business networking from the ground up over the past 6 years. I spent most of my professional career as a licensed marriage and family therapist. This means that I spent the vast majority of my time in a small office.
I have joined BNI, the loca chamber of commerce, ToastMasters, ActiveRain, and much more over the past few years. I have thoroughly enjoyed the BNI experience. It was in BNI that I came across the book The 29% Solution by Dr. Ivan Misner (BNI's founder). This book offers a 52 point self-assessment for networking saavy and behavior.
Essentially, this book walks the reader through 52 different dimensions of business networking. You will be challenged and surprised by the ideas contained within.
I highly recommend it.
Are you in a weekly business networking group? If not, you are missing a grand opportunity to increase your referrals and sales. And, you are missing a lot of fun.
I meet weekly with my BNI chapter. In fact, I am now president of the chapter. With the philosophy of Givers Gain, I form relationships with professionals in other professions and help to build their business.
Networking is perhaps the most cost-efficient, effective form of marketing. Get out and meet people. Give them your card and ask for referrals or for their business. It's simple.
If anxiety leads you to neglect this lucrative habit, start slowly. Meet one person at a time by connecting through the chamber of commerce for lunch or by inviting a business person in your church for breakfast before services. It's easier than you may think.