We all know we need to network to build our business, but many times we tend to push networking down to the bottom of our to-do list. We know we should do it. It’s good for business. But sometimes it can be intimidating.
I know many of us want to build our business totally online. That’s great, and I do that to. But in order to have a successful business, or to get a new one off to a great start, I firmly believe that the best plan is to marry both offline and online methods. This article is about offline methods, but you can also read my article Network on Social Media Like a Pro to learn more about online methods.
But if networking doesn’t come naturally for you, take heart. Here are some simple tips to help you improve this critical skill and make any networking event work for you:
Don’t overlook any opportunity to network –
Great networkers know that networking isn’t just limited to networking events. There are opportunities all around you every day… whether it’s at a formal networking event or in line at the grocery store, or waiting at the dentist’s office.
You never know where a conversation will lead, so try to connect with everyone you can. Many people have picked up a new team member or customer by chatting with someone who knows someone who knows someone. Appreciate each person you meet rather than looking around for someone who you might think is better. You just never know.
Focus on what you can give, rather than get –
Too many people that I’ve met at networking events seem to think that this one conversation with someone is their one shot to get that person to buy from them or join them. Let go of any expectations you have about the conversation and just enjoy it. Get to know the person you’re talking to.
The truth is, what’s really most important is that the person you’re talking to remember you after the event. You want to stand out in their mind. Be interested instead of interesting. Work to keep the conversation on the person you’re talking to, and give them your full attention. Focus on how you can contribute to the event, help others, or just learn something new. This change in mindset will have you building strong relationships, getting lots of leads, and actually enjoying yourself.
It’s all about posture –
Don’t be too desperate. You don’t want to look like your main purpose is to get something from the event. Neediness is a major turn-off in any situation.
Ask questions that can’t be answered with a simple answer –
The idea is to keep the other person talking and you listening. If you struggle with small talk, this should help you. What and why questions are great for this. For example, “What is your customer’s biggest challenge?” or “What do you like best about what you do?” or “Why do you think that is?”
Be yourself –
Of course you’ll want to practice responses to common questions, but you want your answers to be natural and draw people in. That means you’ll want to leave buzzwords at home and forget about your elevator pitch. There are times where your elevator pitch is ideal (like in an elevator), but not at networking events. Instead strive to have a meaningful conversation.
Practice, practice, practice –
Networking is just like any other professional skill. Networking is rarely a skill that anyone is born with. In order to be amazing, you have to first be good; and in order to be good, you have to first be bad. The more you do it, the better you’ll get. And the best way to do that is just get out and try.
Learning how to network is one of the most powerful tools to advance your professional and personal life. The more relationships you have for your business the more opportunities, support, clients and most importantly, income you will create.
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Let’s have some conversation!
By Lynn Huber
p.s. Networking isn’t just about meeting new people—be sure to revisit those old connections too. Stay in touch with them and always work to strengthen your relationships.
If you are happy in a business, that is great. If you are looking for the right business with a marketing system already in place that works; the right mentor; something you can build online, I would love to share what I am doing with you. Click here and let’s explore the possibilities.