Building a network of contacts that can help you in self employment

Build beneficial connections
There is no doubt that you have an excellent product or service, but the problem is that at a certain point in your business or career, your leads may run out. Your connections and referrals must thus be increased. Use these guidelines to build a network of contacts in every possible manner.

It is important to ask open questions starting with how, why, where, when and what in your conversations with everyone you meet. These questions provide valuable information about people, their work and knowledge that you may use later on. In the same breath, also provide this type of information about your business, service, position and future expectations when the opportunity presents itself only after you have build a trust relationship.

These types of questions create an introduction and help the other person to relax and relate to you while the person also gets a chance to talk about his interests. The first step is thus to enquire about one another through open questions.

Examples of the relaxing questions when you endeavor to build a network of contacts:

  • 'How did you start your flying school?' This is fifteen the minutes of fame question, because it provides the opportunity for people to elaborate on their life and success stories.
  • 'What do you plan for the future in your business?' This not only gives you an idea of where you can possibly work together in future but also creates a feeling of interest in another person's visions and dreams.
  • 'How did you expand your business to include catering services?' This type of question focuses on the other person's great abilities as well as provides tips that you can use.

You have succeeded in obtaining important information about the potential contact, and have helped to build the prospect's confidence, self-worth and thus trust in you. The focus was on the prospect first.

Most people want to know how the prospect can be a benefit to them. By asking the following question you indicate that you are more interested in enhancing prospects for that person: 'Martin, how will I know that a person I am in contact with can be a good prospect for you?' This also indicates that you are looking out for him and he will thus provide all the information you need. If a person knows that you will refer people to him, he will feel inclined to return the favor.

The conversation is over and you have not tried to sell your business or services. By this time you can exchange business cards and you can use the information to contact him again. By doing this, you are building a trust relationship. This type of conversation is relaxed and doesn't contain a sales pitch. It is a non-threatening approach and helps to build a network of contacts.

The average business person knows around 200 to 300 people. Every new contact thus creates an infinite list of potential referrals. By starting conversations in this manner with every person you meet, you will be able to build a network of contacts and referrals that are more valuable than thousands of dollars spent on advertising your services. Keep the following in mind when you build a network of contacts .
  • Show appreciation for the leads from other people by thanking them for their referrals, knowledge, assistance, or ideas. You can do this in writing, send a card, an SMS or make a call.
  • Keep in contact even when you don't need something from the person. You can do this by dropping a note once in a while, e-mail them, sending a card, giving a voucher, or just inviting them to a game of golf or a cup of coffee.
  • Be openhanded - don't just take but also share. Provide assistance, ideas, and support for others.
  • Make your presence known by being involved in projects.
  • Provide positive comments and when you hear something good about a person then tell him.
  • Share news with others, but also give feedback on how something turned out. People like to know if their referrals worked out.
  • Always follow up on referrals.

The most important rule when you build a network of contacts is to respect and acknowledge the worth of each person you meet.