In a business development training program that I was running this week for a large company, discussions turned to the value and importance of networking across the company’s various business units and sub-business units by way of one2one coffee chats. I believe this particular activity plays a big part in creating a team networking culture which in turn is instrumental in keeping the revenues flowing, even in a slow economy.
No doubt about it. Building relationships is the heart and soul of business development and strong solid relationships ‘inside the company’ is where real business development success begins.
When work colleagues invest time and energy into getting to know each other better (and better understanding each other’s business strengths and capabilities) they will typically find hidden contacts, resources, support, cross-selling opportunities, solutions and other treasures that you’ll be able to capitalise on. Ultimately, you will attract and win more work via the ‘power’ of collaborating more effectively with one another.
Back to the training session I was running.
I shared with my group a batch of questions that they could weave into their coffee chats with colleagues — questions to ensure that these meetings would be truly worthwhile and not merely ‘social’. The idea is to think about what you want to happen during and after these meetings. In other words, don’t just ‘wing’ it. So here are the questions:
- What are you spending most of your time on right now?
- Are there any new developments in your branch/business unit?
- Who are you talking to lately that might be a good contact for me?
- Who can I introduce you to that might be a good contact for you?
- What are your plans to win more work/grow your business? Can you tell me more?
- What do you want me to tell my clients/customers about you/your business unit?
- What kind of challenges are you facing right now?
- What other issues are important to you?
- Who else should be sitting in on this conversation?
- How can I help you win more work/get more business? How can I be of the greatest help to you? (This is the best question you can ask.)
- What’s next for you?
- When should we schedule our next coffee chat? (This question is important.)
Of course, you’re not going to ask all of these questions. You don’t have the time. The idea is to make your coffee chats with colleagues really count. Don’t walk away from these meetings without agreeing to do something or having exchanged some valuable information. Discuss cross-selling opportunities. Ask for introductions and referrals you need to get in front of ‘buyers’ you want to meet. Learn how to refer your colleague to your customers/contacts. Teach your work colleagues how to talk about your business unit to their contacts and learn how to talk about their business unit to the people you know. Exchange promises to make helpful introductions. Create a commitment or obligation to do something together or for each other. Set a date for the next coffee chat. You get the idea.
To finish off this discussion, I put the following question/challenge to the group: Which 4 colleagues will I have a coffee chat with in the next 30 days?
Comment below with your ideas on Networking Inside The Company Walls.