The power of networking | Let's Talk BD Podcast Ep.7

August 19, 2022
The power of networking | Let's Talk BD Podcast Ep.7

What’s the power of networking and how can you excel at it? Learn tips from Maria Cozza in this episode of the Let’s Talk BD Podcast.

There are two central facets that define business development culture. The first one is uncertainty. The second is variability. No business developer can say that their work has always led to positive outcomes.In fact, if one thing’s certain, is that a career in business developmentis like failing 100 times before seeing one small success.

This is a repetitive cycle. For most of us, however, this is exactly what makes it an exciting field. Of course, I’m not excluding the high salaries, company benefits, and career progression opportunities that come as job perks.

But, challenges are common and sometimes exciting in business development.In this episode of the Let’s Talk BD Podcast, we ask Maria Cozza about her business development career. And how she used her networking skills to overcome various professional hurdles. Maria is a co-founder of the LIT School and serves as a trainer at The BD School.

Power of networking: Becoming a good networker

Maria credits learning as one of the most important strategies to succeed as a business developer. When she first started her role, she faced one of the most common challenges in business development: a lack of training.

But that didn’t stop her from pursuing her ambitions. She leaned on the networking skills she has gained over the years to stay competitive in her job position. Soon after, this became one of her favorite things about her career.

Meeting new people and forming relationships and partnerships with others seemed like an excellent way to drive business growth. And maintain purpose while doing so. One of the most biased perspectives she notices in many business developers is that they don’t understand what networking really is.

As she mentions during the conversation, networking isn’t only about finding clients or increasing sales. Partnerships and collaborations are two essential components of great networking.

“You should go to a networking event saying to yourself: ‘I won’t sell anything today.’”Maria Cozza

Her strategy to become a good networker is to make friends with others. To share and receive knowledge from them. Importantly, she points out that this doesn’t mean that every conference will lead to a high number of friends. But, you’ll meet people that can refer your products and services to their group of friends and colleagues.

You’ll be able to form quality connections with them and this requires significant dedication and time. Maria’s strategy reflects the reality of business interactions today. We can’t expect success if we don’t nurture our professional relationships and put effort into sustaining them.

How to avoid being awkward?

I’d like you to think about your favorite advertisement you’ve seen on TV or online throughout the years. Did it make you laugh? Did it evoke positive emotions in you?We like to think that advertisements should have this grandiosity and professionalism about them. But, sometimes the best ads are the ones with the most relatable scenarios and stories.The power of networking lies in genuine connection.

If you’re good at humor, for example, use it to your advantage when you attend your next event or conference. You can try to say something funny at first but within the general context.Networking isn’t about winning, especially in the beginning. It’s more about connecting and helping create a lasting positive experience.Further, you should try to ask questions and share your opinions and perspectives. In this way, you learn from others and they learn from you.

Power of networking: Icebreakers

What pains many aspiring networkers is that they think being introverted is a barrier to success in business.

“I’m too shy. How do I become a good networker?”

Being shy and an introvert doesn’t mean you can’t be a good networker. Awkwardness at events and conferences can affect both extroverted and introverted people. In Maria’s words, shyness isn’t a weakness. In fact, it can be a great icebreaker. For example, at an event, you can approach someone who’s as shy as you. Maybe they’re not interacting with anyone, and you can make use of this to spark a conversation.

Maria adds that when you attend conferences, some helpful icebreakers include starting with questions that don’t have to be professional in nature. You can ask fellow attendees about the organizers and speakers for example. Or you can organize your own event or party.

One other example of an icebreaker is talking about your passions. We tend to be drawn to people who are confident and passionate about what they do and how they transmit it into their environment. You’ll manage to bond with your peers easily when you share your passions with them and they do the same.

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