Networking Works! 6 steps to growing your business through networking
“I’m too busy to network”
“It’s a waste of time”
“I don’t meet the right people”
“It’s costly; when will I see a return on my investment?”
Networking works, but you have to work at it! When I attended my first networking meeting I was terrified. I worried that nobody would talk to me or that the room would be full of high-flyers who would look down their nose at a training consultant.
I actually had a really positive experience and have been successfully networking ever since. Everyone knows that you get a more positive response from people who you meet face to face yet we still shy away from networking or don’t use it to its full potential.
My 6 top tips for growing your business through networking are:
1. Don’t talk about yourself too much
Aim for an 80:20 ratio with you asking the other person plenty of questions about their business, this is the best way to determine if they would have any use for your service or product. It also gives the other person that “warm fuzzy” feeling if you seem genuinely interested in their business and, after all, most people love to talk about themselves!
2. Practice your 60 second commercial
Most networking events allow the attendees to give a 60 second commercial so make sure yours is memorable but professional…don’t get the other networkers to stand on one leg while humming the National Anthem, you’ll just make them feel ridiculous and alienate people.
Your 60 second commercial can also be used in answer to “So what do you do?” and is especially useful if you provide a service or manufacture a product that wouldn’t be instantly recognised by a lay person.
3. Talk to as many people as possible
Without being rude or cutting conversations short, try to speak to as many people as possible. Don’t ever dismiss somebody if they don’t seem like the kind of person you would do business with as they may be very well-connected and may refer you to a contact.
4. Take plenty of business cards
Give your card to everyone that you talk to, or why not give them two or three and ask them to pass the extra ones on to a contact whom you may be able to help?
Some networking groups may email a delegate list out before the event with each person’s contact details on……keep this.
5. Follow up
THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF NETWORKING!!! If you don’t do this then you might as well not bother with networking. Call everyone who attended the networking event a few days later, don’t worry if you didn’t speak to them at the event. Why not try the following approach;
“Hi, we were at the same networking event yesterday and I really wanted to come and have a chat with you but didn’t seem to get the opportunity. Would I be able to just take a minute or so of your time now to see if it would be worthwhile for us to meet for a coffee and find out more about each other’s businesses?”
Don’t feel cheeky doing this, ultimately everyone goes to networking events to win more business or to find solutions to their business headaches. If you promised to send some information or introduce a contact then make sure you do this within the next couple of days. Use LinkedIn to connect with people you have met also.
6. Give to Get
Ralph Waldo Emerson, in his essay, “Compensation,” wrote that each person is compensated in a like manner for that which he or she has contributed. The same applies to networking; if you can introduce two people who might be able to work with each other, then they are more likely to reciprocate. Whether it’s an introduction, expert advice or information, it all helps.
Networking isn’t a quick fix to solve your business problems; it’s a slower but more sustainable method for growing your revenue as long as you make the most of it.
Author: Helen Jones, Sandler Training and Cherchez Member