News & insight

This question makes networking easy

February 4, 2021

By Liza Robbins

Katarzyna Grabarczyk, Kreston International’s Member Services Manager, was in a Teams meeting with partners at a Kreston firm that specialises in the automotive industry.

Together, they logged onto Kommunity, our new referral system, and brought up a long list of other Kreston members with expertise in the same area.

“Are these your new best friends?” Kat smiled.

She was joking, but like all good jokes there was some truth in her words.

 If we’re going to drive our firms forward, it’s essential to develop close relationships with potential business partners in our network.

The more Kreston colleagues we know well, the more business we can refer each other. The more help we can give each other, the more we can help our clients grow.

But if you listen closely to Kat’s words, there’s also a catch…

Many people find it difficult to see a list of contacts on a screen, and turn them into their “new best business friends.”

It’s only natural if you want to reach out to potential contacts, but you’re worried about intruding…

You’re not sure what to say… How do you turn an introductory call into a long-term business  relationship?

The truth is, reaching out to a fellow Kreston member is probably less stressful than any other type of networking.

Our chair, Rich Howard, has told me that he’ll never accept any LinkedIn request from anyone he doesn’t know – unless they belong to a Kreston firm, in which case he will never ignore them.

I would imagine – and hope! – that all Kreston members feel the same way.

Still, I want to share with you the most useful piece of advice I ever received about networking.

“The easiest way to break the ice is to be a giver.”

In other words – and apologies here to JFK – don’t ask what your new contact can do for you. Ask what you can do for them.

Go into every networking call with something useful to share, whether that’s a referral, a good piece of advice or a recent success your colleague can learn from.

And if you don’t have anything that comes to mind, simply ask: “I want to find out how I can help you?”

When you go into networking thinking about what you can give rather than what you can get, something magical happens… 

Your nervousness disappears, because there’s no need to impress anyone to win their business.

Instead of a general “introductory conversation”, your initial chat turns into something much more constructive, and the bonds you build with your new contacts are so much stronger.

The people you connect to will trust you faster, because you will have shown straight away you mean business – literally!

And when you really need their help, they will be much more inclined to reciprocate, because your partnership began on Day 1.

The reason I’m sharing this advice is because this is International Networking Week…

It’s a great time to log onto Kommunity and look up potential contacts who would be worth reaching out to.  You can search by expertise, geography, language and other settings, depending on what you’ll find most useful.

(And while you’re there, make sure that your own profile is fully filled in, so that the most useful contacts can find you easily, too!)

Commit to making contact with some of them, and finding ways to work together to grow your business. I’ve just given you an easy conversation starter…

And if you’d like to create even stronger relationships within Kreston, join in with our Koffee with Kreston online networking sessions this month.

They are a chance to meet other Kreston members across the globe, build some connections and maybe some new business opportunities.

You can find the details on Kommunity!