If you look around, you’ll see that there are a lot of these events happening all around you. From the Chamber of Commerce Breakfast Networking to groups such as Contacts N Coffee, Heart Link Network, BNI, LeTip, etc.
A good source to find these groups is meetup.com. Any group that attracts business people is a great place to visit.
Keep in mind that a network event is more like a cocktail party. You’re not going to pitch your business opportunity or products at the event. Instead you’ll make the contact, get a business card and follow up later.
Really… spend all of your talking time with that person learning more about them, understanding their needs and concerns, getting their contact information, and starting to build a relationship. If they ask what you do, give them a quick answer – something like, “I help business owners retain their current customers and gain more referrals for future customers,” and then turn the conversation back to the person you’re talking to.
After you get home, within the next day or two, you’ll want to call the people you met and schedule a 1-on-1 meeting. This is where you will get to know each other and determine how you can help each other out. This will be the first step in building a relationship with each other.
Most likely, the person you’re calling will want to meet with you as much as you want to meet with them. They want the chance to show you their business as well.
People tend to have short memories. Be sure to follow-up right away, and then stay in contact on a regular basis. You’ll want to make personal contact with everyone on your list at least 3-4 times per year, either by phone or with a greeting card. Demonstrate the value of your expertise or products by sending prospects and clients an idea or suggestion they can use right away. You could present this in an article you’ve written, or one you’ve read. Your contact will then associate you with the problems you solve.
Make it a point to meet as many people as possible and continue to expand your network. Whenever you make a contact, ask for referrals to other prospects. Once you’ve met someone new, be sure to add them into your contact manager database.
Work on becoming a match-maker by introducing business people to other business people who can benefit them in their business. By doing this, you will quickly become the “go to” person. Over time, this business building strategy will reward you with a steady stream of new clients.
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By Lynn Huber
p.s. Change your mindset. You’re not there to get. Instead, you’re there to contribute to the event, help others or just learn what other professionals are doing. This little change in thinking will boost your sense of purpose and self-worth and erase that overwhelming pressure. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself having a good time, developing strong relationships and attracting loads of referrals.
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