Networking as we know it today can trace its roots all the way back to 1905. Lawyer Paul J. Harris pulled together a few his friends to form Rotary, the world’s very first civic club. He’d set out to grow his own practice through the club but soon realized that there was real potential for Rotary to become something much bigger. The concept caught on quickly, and a century later Rotary boasts more than 33,000 active clubs worldwide. Millions of business professionals have benefited from what Harris started, and Rotary still holds to his original principal – “Service Above Self”.
The next major chapter in networking history starts 75 years later with Dr. Ivan Misner and what is now known as Business Network International, or BNI. Originally intended just to provide an opportunity for professionals to meet up with other professionals, BNI has 7,500 chapters around the globe, generating millions of business referrals. Their principal? “Givers Gain”.
All of this brings us to today. Networking organizations and events play an integral role in the success of any business, and savvy business professionals are well aware of the value networking brings to the table. The reason these two organizations have stayed relevant and successful after all these years is a simple one; they’ve never lost sight of their original purpose.
Networking is effective because humans are social creatures, and these events give us the chance to connect with other professionals in a way that feels comfortable and natural. And when it’s done right, networking is not about what the person you’re chatting with can do for you, but what you can do for them. That giving aspect is what makes connections stick.
How can you make sure you’re taking the right approach to your interactions with fellow professionals, and making an impression that will have the intended effect? Start with these 6 basic tips.
By putting these tips into practice, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a professional networker. In fact, that should be your goal at these events going forward. Your business needs these connections in order to grow, and the better you become at creating and maintaining them, the more successful your business will be.