Networking strategist Bella Rareworld believes that face-to-face networking is the key to success in business. She started her advisory business in 2007 in London and has recently extended it to New York. She regularly hosts networking events, courses, and consultancy programs to provide practical networking solutions for businesses and individuals.
Epoch Times spoke with Bella Rareworld about the art of networking and her tips on building good business relations.
Epoch Times: What is the key to success in networking?
Bella Rareworld: First you need to find out who is your target audience. You need to be clear on why you are networking. Then following up is very important. You need to be reliable and deliver what you have promised. Most importantly you need to be unselfish. You don’t need to talk about yourself all the time, you need to listen and be interested. And most people don’t know how to explain their businesses. They need to explain why they are different. So an elevator pitch is also very important.
Epoch Times: Can you describe an elevator pitch?
Ms. Rareworld: You should have two versions with 30 seconds and 60 seconds. You need to be aware that at a networking event you may not have a lot of time. You have to prepare and you have only one chance. You need to practice it over and over. You have to explain your business quickly and simply so that they can remember you. You have to stand out in the room.
Epoch Times: What are the other tips to better networking?
Ms. Rareworld: You have to smile. That is the biggest tip. And you need to keep it simple. Ninety percent of people don’t want to be at a networking event. They are there because they have to promote their businesses. It is like doing a tax return. Nobody wants to do it. A lot of people are selfish in business and they don’t want to hear what other people are telling them. They just want to sell their product or service. So they don’t smile. They are grumpy. Only time they smile is when they see a great food or a lovely canapé. Another tip is you don’t have to always talk about business. What sports team do you like? Let the others talk about things they like. They will remember you. You will build an instant relationship. Again this is related to being unselfish. So you need to keep it simple and be social.
Epoch Times: Can you say high performance in business is linked to strong connections?
Ms. Rareworld: Yes there is a trend. High performance can be achieved by networking. In London there is a perception: When people start making money and start hitting their targets, they think they should stop networking. Because they believe they don’t need it anymore. The more successful you become, the more networking you need to do. I constantly follow entrepreneurial stories. Every billionaire has been successful because one person has opened the door for them.
Epoch Times: Can an introverted person become a good networker?
Ms. Rareworld: Absolutely. It does not matter. I know a deaf person. He is a more active networker than most people I have seen. He does consultancy to help other deaf people. There is nothing that stops him. He is a good example to show others about being lazy in networking. There is no skill you cannot learn. It is like riding a bike. Networking actually improves communication skills. If you challenge yourself to talk to somebody who is out of your comfort zone, I guess automatically it will improve your communication skills.
Epoch Times: What is the biggest challenge in networking?
Ms. Rareworld: Lack of time is the biggest challenge. However the moment you stop networking due to lack of time, you become invisible and you are forgotten. The easiest way to get around that problem is to be disciplined with time. It is important to stick to some networking groups and go to a few networking events every week or every month. You cannot stop networking. If you cannot go to events, you can do online networking.
Epoch Times: What is your advice for students?
Ms. Rareworld: Students should be taught how to do networking. Unfortunately, there are no official networking modules at schools. It is important to express opinion at every opportunity, even during lectures. You need to keep talking. The more you do presentations, the better you become. Even toastmasters can help in improving communications. Also, to build networking skills, you need to go to events with speakers. Listening to good speakers is actually good training. YouTube also has some great workshops. Students should also have business cards. It doesn’t have to be fancy. You can put your name, university, undergraduate degree, and telephone number on the business card.
Epoch Times: In the United States there are many Chinese students and businessmen. Do you have any tips for them on how to advance in networking?
Ms. Rareworld: I can see that the biggest challenge for them is to express opinions. The approach I would suggest is to start networking online first and then bring it offline. I believe the biggest tool is LinkedIn. They can find groups in their business fields or interests and start writing comments online. Even like three short comments a week is good progress. Actually by doing that they will start increasing their own personal brand. Then they can start going to industry networking events where they feel comfortable in talking. And finally they can go to the general networking events.
Epoch Times: How can people turn business cards into clients?
Ms. Rareworld: A lot of people go to events and they get frustrated because they don’t get the right business cards. They don’t know how to follow up the next day. Sixty percent of networking is following up. What is the point of collecting all these cards? It is a waste of time if you do not follow up. Nine out of 10 people are scared to pick up the phone. The best way to organize the business cards is this sticker system I use. It is very helpful. Every time you meet someone you can just say it is a hot or cold contact and you can just put a sticker on the business card. When you go back home or even on subway you can organize the business cards easily.
Epoch Times: Which book inspired you most in your business?
Ms. Rareworld: The book called “How to Win Friends & Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. The book teaches interpersonal skills. To become successful in networking you need to be unselfish. It was published in the 1930s and it was actually the first ever personal development book. This book is the most powerful one and it does not date. And from a networking point of view, it is a very good tool.