In today’s economy, networking can be the key to the success of any business. Networking is pretty much free, it’s immediate, and you can customize your approach on a need-basis, but there are some tips to keep in mind.
Before you arrive at a networking event, know something about the people who would be attending. Prepare your “elevator” speech that fits the attendees, and set some goals before the event.
Preparation: A networkers “tool box” should include an ample supply of business cards and other business-related materials, your name tag and your marketing message.
Arrive Early: Arriving early will allow you to pause and calmly gather your thoughts and intentions so that your time there will be a benefit to you and your goals.
Have a Plan: When you have a plan, it is easier to stay focused and achieve your expected outcome. It also helps you to keep on track to helping others in achieving their goals.
Be a Giver and/or a Connector: When you focus on “giving” the “getting” will come later – and it will come in unexpected ways. When you are generous, people will notice and respect you for your kind nature.
Leave Your Troubles Behind: People will look forward to seeing you and meeting you if you are energetic, positive and outgoing.
Ask Questions and Listen With Focus: Ask open-ended questions – who, what, where, when. Avoid questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no. When someone is speaking give them your entire focus.
Be Genuine: There is a huge difference in being interested and trying to be interesting. Take the first step to ask questions; don’t start broadcasting your business.
Do Teach/Don’t Sell: The smart networker knows that the immediate sale of a product is not the goal; it’s about building relationships with others who would be happy to refer others to you.
Follow Up: After the event, send a thank you note to each person that you had a direct contact with. Mention something specific from your conversation. Jot notes on the back of their business card as a reminder. Showing up and following up are the two most important parts of networking.
Follow Up Some More: Marketing statistics state that it takes 7-12 impressions for a person to make a buying decision. Because of the overload of information we face every day, this number may be higher.
Your hand shake should be firm, not sloppy. Wear your name tag on the left shoulder so your name is not blocked when you shake hands. Wear something with pockets so your cards are in your left pocket and those you get put in your right. If someone you meet is a hot prospect, dog-ear the card. And don’t forget to jot down notes.