Anyone that is looking to grow there business or continue to find success knows that networking is necessary, even if not always the funniest thing to do.
Yes, you can network at events designed and called networking events, but you can network almost anywhere. You network at chamber luncheons, at professional association meetings, fundraisers, on the golf course, in the bar, at the salon or any other place that you find yourself talking to others.
Remember, anything you want to be successful at you need to make a plan for. So let me give you some tips that I have found make me more successful.
- Be Prompt, in fact, be early when you are heading to a networking event. You will be there to greet everyone else as they arrive. You will be the one who knows who does what as you talk with the new arrives and will be able to point them in the right direction. You will be a person with knowledge and resources.
- Ask Good Questions, then listen and allow them to tell you all about what ever it is. Ask something like, “What brings you here today” after you introduce yourself.
- Wall Flower, don’t just wander around hoping someone will want to talk with you. You need to approach them and then ask the good question. Its easy and if you listen, your conversation will go well.
So at this point, the sales professional is already seeing the idea of introductions, listening to see if they would make a good sales prospect and is already looking for my tips to follow up with the best contacts, but sales is not the sole purpose of networking.
- No Sales, that’s right leave the sales pitch at home and just get to know what they do and see what you can do to help them in the future. You are making connections, not simply looking for the next sale. Think about sharing with them what you do and what a good client might look like.
- Passion, don’t be shy, talk about what excites you. If your company just launched a new service, great, if your spouse was just recognized by a non-profit that they volunteer at, then use that to share something about yourself. Don’t forget to share that you are into mobile app design or are an electrical engineer, but it doesn’t have to be the only thing to talk about.
Be Friendly, for some that will be smiling, for others it will simply be not looking mean. RBF should be avoided while networking if at all possible, you are trying to put your best foot forward, so make sure you are approachable. Follow Up, don’t forget to drop a note to everyone you had a descent connection with, even if there is “never a chance” that the lead will pan out. You just never know who they will meet next and if you are the one on their mind, they will share your name. Be A Resource, that’s right, don’t just use your new connections, help them out. The more you give to them, the more they will be looking for a chance to do something for you. Next Time, be sure to say hi the next time you meet and ask them for an update since you last met.