It often surprises me, the number of people that I meet, that suggest that they are uncomfortable when it comes to networking.
Networking is an opportunity to meet new people, to make new business friends, to learn about new industries and introduce people to yours.
When you think it of it like that, what is there not to like?
If you follow the below, you shouldn’t go too far wrong…
My first rule of an effective ‘networker’, is to find the right events for you and to stick with them.
Whether that be weekly or monthly, a breakfast meeting or after-work drinks, there are various networking groups, from the local radio station or sports club, to professional networking organizations, such as BNI, FirmBalls, Women in Business Network & Global Breakfast with whom I network with.
It’s equally as important to set your expectation, as it’s unlikely (albeit not impossible) you’ll be doing business at your first attendance, which brings me on to the second point and probably the most important of all…
This is The Art of Networking, not the Art of Selling and trust me, the two are very different!
We have to accept, that until those that are there to sell have read and digested this blog (????), it’s likely there will be a number of ‘hunters’ present, so choose your time wisely.
Now we’ve accepted the people we are speaking with, are going to be selling our service (or product) as opposed to buying it, we need to make sure that our message is clear, precise and more so, memorable.
The aim should be to walk away from the event having educated as many as you can as to what you do, so when they next hear…
“oh I really need a holiday”
Let me introduce you to a Travel Consultant that I met last week. He was telling me all about what they do and it sounds amazing!
“we came home to foxes nesting in our garden”
What are the odds, I met lady from XYZ Pest Control last week, who was telling me all about the humane way in which they deal with nesting foxes. Let me introduce you.
Now answer me this… did you ever think you’d be referencing a Travel Consultant or Pest Control company? No? Well, I bet they didn’t think they’d be introducing you and your business neither, well, not until you recently both met and connected.
And there it is, the Art of Networking!
So, now that we have accepted that it’s unlikely we’ll be walking away with a sale from the event, or even a referral from the first few, it’s important that we stick with it and attend time and time again.
The more people get to know our face, the more engagement we will get, which will not only help with your ‘networking nerves’ (should they exist), but it’ll strengthen your opportunity network also.
Finally, the ‘golden rule’…
Ask yourself, what is the point in taking all that time and effort (and often cost) in attending these networking events & exhibitions, if we do not follow up?!
Connect on LinkedIn and post a comment tagging your new-found friend, with what they do.
You never know, they may return the favour and guess what, secure you a referral.
Ladies & gentleman, we are now networking!