Effective Networking is an essential part of any business. Lead generation, relationship building, client retention… these are all critical aspects of business that can be enhanced through networking.
Networking Works!! If done well, it can be an incredibly powerful and economical arrow in your marketing quiver. If done poorly, it can amount to a painful experience of frighteningly unidentifiable food. So here are a few tips to make it more rewarding:
Know your event
Choose events where there will be people you can do business with (please note that this does not mean only those to whom you can sell.), or those who share an interest or passion you have. For effective networking, common interest is often the start of a great conversation.
Know your objectives
If you go with the goal of selling at the event, you may as well stay home. Networking is more often about relationship building. Approaching a networking event with the intent to “sell” to everyone you meet will turn people off. Remember, these events are about meeting new people. It may take several conversations before the subject of business even comes up.
Go with the goal of meeting 5 new people, and see where it goes…
Take business cards…
“Enough said?” Maybe not… This is a personal pet peeve … If you want to project a professional appearance, having business cards on hand is a MUST!!! If you want to be able to develop conversations with others who could potentially become leads, having business cards on hand is a MUST!!! There’s nothing worse than losing contact with a potential lead because they don’t know how to get in touch with you following an event. To network effectively, have business cards available, and give them out often and courteously.
Listen and ask questions
It’s like dating: no one is interested in those who only talk about themselves. Show interest in the people you meet and what is important to them. This is where attending events where you have a common interest is beneficial.
Give referrals whenever possible
A good networker receives by giving. This couples with ‘Listen and ask questions’ where you show interest in others before bringing attention to yourself. The law of reciprocity is at work here, and when people see you are willing to give, most will give back.
If you make a promise, keep it!
Think relationship. People are more likely to do business with those they know and trust than with someone who thrust a business card into their hands. If you commit to sending an email, send it… if you commit to making a phone call, make it… if you say you’ll do something, do it. You will show yourself to be someone they can trust.
While effective networking is work, it can also be a very enjoyable way to learn, to share and to profitably grow your business.
Effective networking isn’t about ‘making the sale’, it’s about getting out there and meeting people, learning about them, and making connections. So get out there and see what happens.