Networking is mostly about connecting with people and building effective relationships with them and since any business is reliant on connecting with people, even on-line businesses, this is a crucial subject for any entrepreneur and business owner to focus on.
If you’re short on time to read the full article, here’s some tips to help you get the most out of your next networking opportunity;
Here’s some tips to help you get the most out of your next networking opportunity;
- Be prepared, be confident – practice your business description/pitch beforehand
- Go networking with a goal – to meet 3 – 5 new people for instance
- Smile – the way we meet & greet people says a lot about us!
- If you’re new to a group or want to meet someone specific ask your host(s) to introduce you
- Ask open questions and listen – show a real interest in them
- Help others – you’ll likely be helped in return
- Exchange business cards with people that you want to follow-up with
- Build Trust – eye contact, smile, listen, ask questions
- Follow-up – a quick email is all it takes – “good to meet you, here’s that article I was talking about”
However, if you’ve go this far, you might like to read on …..
The art of networking
One mistake that some people make when starting out with networking is thinking and acting like it’s all about selling their product or service. Clearly generating sales is our ultimate goal, but in my experience people tend to buy only from people that they know and trust and therefore, thrusting a business card into their hand and asking them to buy your product or service is unlikely to yield much success. Think about it – would you want to do anything with a person you didn’t trust? Do you look like someone who can be trusted?
So how do we build trust with someone, especially a person that we’ve not met before? Well for me there are three key elements…..
The first element is through our Persona, how we interact with the people that we meet. Do I look friendly and approachable? Do I smile and make eye contact? Do I appear confident? How do I greet you is it warm and friendly? Do I listen and pay attention to you and what you’re saying or am I distracted by what’s happening around us. A major part of how we view/judge someone’s persona is through their eye contact. It’s a fundamental way of connecting with people and thus building trust. Another behavior to consider when attending networking meetings is the way in which you stand and present yourself. Standing tall presents an air of confidence. It also changes the way in which your voice sounds as well. The more confident you look the more confidence the other person is likely to start to build in you, your product or your service. Ultimately it’s about being you, the authentic you! Don’t try and be someone or something else, most people will quickly see through it and trust is then likely to be broken.
So be conscious about how you present and project yourself at your next networking opportunity, you’re representing your business.
Are you effective at what you do?
The second element is about being Effective at what we do. This is about demonstrating in the first instance how we’ve helped previous clients or customers, or how your product has helped previous clients. However, it’s also about following through with any commitments that you made, doing what you said you were going to do. If you set an expectation that you will be in touch with the individual the next day, make sure that you do so. What message does a broken expectation say about you or your business? Being effective at what we do is one of the fastest ways of building trust with another person.
Do you demonstrate how effective your service or your product could be for your potential clients?
It’s worth pointing out at this stage that networking isn’t all about you because it isn’t. You’re actually better off if you focus on finding out about the other person and the most effective way of doing this is to use the A.Q.L. model or put simply; Ask Questions and Listen!
Asking the right questions can yield information that will help you tailor your approach to them. It might be that you can help them directly with your own product or service or that you can refer them to other people in your network. Either way it’s a win/win all round.
Do you accept that we’re different?
For me, the third element is Acceptance; acceptance that we’re all different and have different ways of working and communicating with each other. You might have a different way of working to me, but as long as we have a clear, agreed goal that we’re working towards it doesn’t often matter how we get there. This is a key skill in managing other people, in recognising that their way of doing things might be different to yours. How well do you accept and adapt to other people’s way of working?
So, if networking is mostly about connecting with people, next time you have a networking opportunity give some thought to how you project your Persona, how you can demonstrate your Effectiveness and how Accepting you are of yourself and others.
In summary, my view is that networking is NOT about selling but about building and growing relationships based on trust. People buy from people that they like and trust, so it’s important to be yourself and be genuine at all times. Consider networking as a long term strategy for building profitable long term relationships, rather than a quick win.
I hope that this helps. Enjoy your networking and feel free to share your networking experiences or comments below; I’d love to hear from you.
If you would like help to develop your networking strategy or to get some coaching and feedback on your networking pitch please give me a call on 01273 35886 for a no obligations conversation or email me at [email protected]
Martin Smith Learning and Development Ltd is a management training and coaching company working with business leaders at all levels to help them develop their communication and management skills and to build effective working relationships with the people that they interact with. For a no obligations conversation give me a call on 01273 358863 or email me at [email protected]
Helping you to GROW your business by developing your people