As founding partner of Liquid of Life LLC, Rukhsana Kausar, has spearheaded the growth of the company in the last 2 years, counting Microsoft, Apple, Parsons International Ltd, Khidmah, Fortnum & Mason, Jumeirah Golf Estates, The Capital Club, and more recently, Etihad Airways as clients. More than 95% of clients, both domestic and commercial have come through referrals and recommendations as a result of strategic networking and building relationships with key referral sources. Here are a few of Kausar's tips for networking for professionals in the FM sector:
- Networking is not about selling. Network with the intention of helping others and creating value for others. People do business with people they get to know, like and trust. Once you have found a networking group where you can meet with people who are in your target market, then make sure you attend the networking group on a regular basis, so people get to know who you are. The only way to build trust is to engage with people in a helpful way and that will develop over time. Once you have developed a relationship you can then move on to asking for help as well.
- Biggest "no no" in networking is going to a networking event and handing out your business cards to everyone immediately when you meet them. This for me is a big turn-off. Take the time to get to know the person you are engaging with, ask questions about their business and at the end you can decide whether you want to share your contact details and exchange business cards/contact details.
- Networking is also more about listening to what people say than doing a sales pitch and saying the right things. Take the time to listen to people’s stories. You can only provide something of value to them if you listen to who they are and what they do.
- Follow up is key. In short, if you said you are going to do something, then do it as this will help to enhance your credibility within the networking group.
- My biggest and number one tip for FM professionals would be: Go beyond your industry. It's good to network with your FM peers to stay up to date with trends and share successes and challenges facing the industry but learn to expand your network and visit other networking groups where you can build a general knowledge about other areas that affect FM.
For example, it would be useful to attend a number of different networking events where you can meet with potential new suppliers; attend legal seminars and meet with lawyers who may be able to provide you with knowledge related contract law, labour law and debt recovery; interior design consultants, where you might be able to add value and share knowledge related to design and the issues surrounding facility maintenance.
The likelihood is that you might possibly also be the only FM person there attending the out-of-industry networking event so you can capitalize on building key relationships with the other members of the networking group that can add value to what you do.