Business Networking tips from Africa Notes from an Entrepreneur Speaker

Two years ago, I had an amazing experience in Ghana where I was asked to speak at The African Business Leaders Forum.

Not only did I have the privilege of attending this event and speaking at it, but I had the opportunity of meeting so many amazing, incredible individuals, business leaders, social entrepreneurs and even leaders of nations. And it was during this conference that I thought about something that I might share with you about the “invaluable factor of connection.”

As an entrepreneur speaker, every great success that I’ve had with my business I can trace back to “connection” at some degree. And “connection” is one of the things that determine your market place value. So I want to share with you four tips that I kept in mind while I was attending this conference.

The first tip is to give first. In fact, this is value number one in my company. As I travel the world as an entrepreneur speaker, I want to come to a conference with an attitude of how I can give, how can I share, what referrals can I offer to that person. When you do this instead of coming with an attitude of what can I get out of other people, you will build trust much faster than anything else you could say or do.

The second tip is to use their name. Now this is pretty fundamental. But for me in a foreign country it was actually a challenge. Many of the times I was hearing names for the first time. So one of the things that I would do is repeat the name back to them and ask “Did I pronounce that correctly?” Not only did that help me internalize the name more as I repeated it, but it saved me the embarrassment of possible mispronouncing their names later on.

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The third tip is to focus on them. Focus on human beings, not your phone. Do not look around the room at who else you might talk to, but instead look at that person in the eye and communicate to them that they are important. When you do that they will view you as important. As an entrepreneur speaker, I always teach my clients to focus on the person!

Then the fourth tip is to maintain contact particularly long term contact. It’s so easy to go to a conference like this and come home with a pile of business cards and just file them into a database. Instead, I want to build a long term connection with people. So I’m going to use resources such as LinkedIn, Facebook, this newsletter and blog, anything that I can do, even having conversations with them on Skype. I want to build that relationship and maintain it over the long term.

Yes, occasionally business is going to come out of the immediate contact that I had with someone. But usually the greatest benefit to us both comes when we build a long term professional connection.

Please your tips with me about your ideas for building connections. I look forward to connecting with you.

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