For many of us, networking is crucial to the success of our business. It’s how we meet potential clients/customers, as well as learn information from our fellow entrepreneurs that can help propel us forward.
So how is your networking going for you? Are you getting the results you want? How is your ROI for your networking time?
Let’s look at what may be sabotaging your efforts.
Here are a few “must do” actions for effective networking:
This is one of the most important tools in your networking kit. Be sure you have your cards with you at all times and ALL your contact information is included, including full name, name of business, website, phone and email. It’s amazing to me that people do not include all these pieces. Recently, I was emailing follow ups and several people did not have their email on their cards. Well, I did the work of looking up the email addresses off their websites, but not everyone would have bothered and I am sure many do not. By not having full contact info, you may be missing opportunities.
The One Minute Pitch
This is the idea behind networking: to share your business info with others in a way that will make them want to continue the conversation. Is your 1 minute pitch memorable, interesting, thought provoking? What about your pitch will they remember?
Pipe Down and Listen!
Many times we are so excited to share our business or other useful information with others we forget to come up for air. We go on and on about us, our business and additional opportunities, and walk away thinking it was a great connection. It was for you but what about the other people? Did you learn about what they do? What about their business makes you want to contact them? Networking is a give and take relationship, and it’s important to listen just as much, if not more, than you are talking. And if you have more info to share with people, it should be done in the follow up.
Think of Others
This is where true networking magic can happen. If you are able to position yourself and your business to help others, people will remember you. Think of how you react to someone who says “how can I help you?” or “what can I do for you?” Especially if they are sincere. Your first reaction is probably surprised amazement, since entrepreneurs are not accustomed to getting offers for help. By finding ways to help your fellow business owners, you are building relationships and opening doors for follow up opportunities.
Dress For Success
This does not mean a power suit (unless this is appropriate for your target market) but you want to be sure to be professional. I have seen both ends of the spectrum when it comes to dress at networking events, and what I have seen work best is casual professional attire. It shows you are serious about your business, but not intimidating. Think about who you are more likely to do business with: someone in yoga pants or someone in a pulled together outfit?
This is the key to networking: if you wait around for others to contact you, you’re missing the success boat.
Networking gives you the contact information and follow up gives you the client. Without timely and effective follow up, all your networking efforts may be useless. Sending a thank you email to those who gave you their card is a great way to connect in the days following the initial contact. Within that email are you creating opportunities for further connections, say for coffee or lunch to discuss potential partnerships or joint ventures?
Following up allows you to remind them about your business and open the door to working together.