Business owners networking

Some people love networking, but for others, the mere thought can bring them out in hives and increase their pulse rate!

All the same networking is an essential part of the marketing mix. And as a business owner you know you have to get out there at some point, in some way, and physically meet other business owners in order for your business to succeed.

If business networking is right up there with “root canal work” or “cleaning out the garage” as “Things I’d Love to Avoid Forever,” try implementing the following 11 tips so you can rock your networking and your business marketing efforts!

  1. Take Stock and Figure Out Your Main Block

Whatever the main source of your discomfort, take a few steps ahead of time to compensate for your insecurities. I really will help you bolster your confidence so you can walk into your event with your head held high.

If it’s your appearance, invest in a new outfit or update your hairstyle. If it’s your conversational skills, read up on a handful of current events just before you go. If you fear being a “newbie” among seasoned pros, craft a few questions you can ask about other people’s businesses and let them do the talking.

  1. Step Away From Your Computer

Especially for business owners who work from home, it becomes all too easy to hide behind the computer screen and shy away from venturing out into the real world.

But marketing is most effective when it is about real, actual relationships with real, actual people—not just the versions of ourselves we present online.

  1. Start Small

 If larger groups intimidate you, counteract the intimidation factor by starting small. Meet-ups are excellent choices for reluctant networkers. Once you’ve built up a comfort level with small events, you can try stepping up into larger gatherings.

Also look for civic and interest groups organized around topics that are already of interest to you. If you have a natural affinity for the group’s purpose or mission, you’re more likely to find common ground with other participants.

  1. Set Small, Realistic Goals

As with any business-related activity, it’s smart to set some goals for yourself before an event. But forget goals like “I’m going to get two new clients from this function.” Instead, set some small, realistic networking goals, such as “I will engage in at least two conversations with people I don’t already know.” Doing so will ease your fears, and give you a confidence boost for the next event.

  1. Think “Kindergarten”

Almost everything you need to know about successful networking, you probably already learned in kindergarten. Be considerate, use good manners, show interest in others, and listen more than you speak.

  1. Forget the Elevator Pitch

The well-intentioned elevator pitch sounds odd and contrived to most people. Instead, when you’re asked the inevitable “What do you do?” question, keep to the basics: what you do and who you do it for. That’s it. Use plain English, and avoid embellishing with emotional or “market-ese” words.

  1. Keep It Social and Personal

People don’t typically respond to professionalism in a social atmosphere. Instead, try forgetting the business context once you’re actually in the room. Focus instead on the social interaction itself—more specifically, on the person with whom you’re speaking.

One of the best questions you can ask is “How Can I Help You?” and see if there’s anything you can do to support them. Naturally, if you’re in the right room, that person will ask you the same thing.

  1. Make a Habit of It

Once you’ve broken the ice and successfully navigated one event, keep this in mind: One networking event does not a networker make! It’s a good start, though.

To get results, however, you need to make networking a habit. Decide on a realistic, regular goal—for instance, two or three events a month.

In fact, now that you’ve got the hang of networking do your research and find an established networking group that meets regularly and sign up to become a member. Make sure the group has a structured agenda focused on maximizing your results so you’re not just wasting time.

  1. Build Referral Partnerships

Remember, no-one likes to be sold to so rather than sell to the room ask if you can be connected to an ideal referral partner. This would be someone who is having the same conversations with their clients as you are but does not offer the same services. For instance, a Book Keeper and an Accountant could service the same clients and not compete with each other

  1. Business Cards Are Not Collectibles

Business cards are not for collecting. Instead, put those cards to use. Enter each new contact into your CRM as soon as possible after the event, and add some personal notes about where you met that person, what you discussed and any personal details you learned.

  1. Follow Up!

Finally, don’t forget to follow up! Successful marketing is about building long term relationships. Simply entering information into your contacts isn’t enough.

You don’t have to take every single person you meet out for lunch. You can follow up in smaller ways. Connect with your new contacts on social media, leave a comment on one of their blog posts, or forward something you think would be of interest to them via email.        

 

 

 

 

 

 

In person networking is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding opportunities to grow your business. But many entrepreneurs invest their time and money without getting the results they expect – often because they have no clear expectations.  If you find yourself turning up at networking events and leaving with the feeling that you’ve wasted your time, not to mention your money, then take a look at my 10 hot networking tips before you head out the door to your next event.

Networking tip #1
Get clear about your ideal client and niche aka target market

Before you even begin networking you absolutely must be clear about who you want to attract as a client. Simple but true – you have to fish where the fish are. Just the same it’s amazing how many people are trying to reach their ideal clients in a room full of people who will never need or want to buy from them.

Networking tip #2
Prepare your 30 second introduction message aka elevator speech

Some events have a formal structure to introduce yourself and often it’s as short as 30 seconds or 1 minute. Be prepared! With such a short amount of time you must make every word count.

Include your name and company, who you help (describe their problem) and what you do for them (that relates to their problem) and most importantly, what results they get from working with you. Then you’ll get the attention and interest of anyone on your wave-length and that’s enough – for now.

Networking tip #3
Research the live networking opportunities available in your vicinity

Once you know who you want to meet up with, the next step is to find the meetings and events in your locality where they hang out. Often you can attend as a visitor and become a member if it works out.

Do not waste your time where the group is so general it will be like looking for a needle in a haystack. That will only lead to frustration and missed opportunity because you could have been somewhere else more rewarding.

Networking tip #4
Plan and schedule your attendance at events

Look at networking as one of your key marketing strategies and once you’ve identified the venues or groups you want to mix in then block the time to attend.

Remember, this is an ongoing strategy so it’s not a race to see how many events you can turn up to. Rather it’s more about the quality of the time you invest in finding the right relationships to create and nurture.

So be selective and pace yourself so you don’t burn out.

Networking tip #5
Set an intention

Before you even leave your office set the intention you have for attending the event. It could be to find a new client, meet a possible JV partner or promote an upcoming event of your own and get a specific number of people interested in that.

Whatever it is, you must have one – an intention that is. Otherwise you will find yourself floating around with no focus on what you want to achieve from being there. It’s amazing how setting the intention will influence the outcome. So be specific and your actions will support your intent.

Networking tip #6
Take your business cards

Amex said it first “don’t leave home without it” and it’s an absolute must to have a card or other means to leave your details with prospective clients. But when it comes to your business card I don’t recommend you hand them out unless someone asks for it.

That may seem controversial but how many times are you given a card you have no interest in and no intention of following up.

And when someone does ask for your card – offer them two – one for them, and one to pass onto a friend or colleague. If they are interested, they are bound to have contacts who would be interested as well.

Networking tip #7
Arrive early – leave late

Once you’ve decided to invest your time and money to attend a live networking event you may as well get there early and be prepared to leave late.

Getting to an event early let’s you meet the organisers without the crowd so you can introduce yourself and ask any questions you may have of them.  Like what speaking or workshop opportunities they may have or who else might be attending. As well as some quality time with other early arrivers.

Then if you really click with someone you can linger afterwards without having to rush off and risk losing an ideal opportunity to connect on a deeper level.

Networking tip #8
Don’t feel like you have to ‘work’ the room

What I mean by this is, do not attempt to talk to as many people in the room as possible. It’s much more productive to stick with your preset intention of who you want to connect with and what outcome you want. So when you’re in front of the right person be satisfied and stay in that conversation until it’s concluded.

Naturally you should move on – without guilt – if there’s no match up. You’ll be serving the other person as well because they’ll also be free to mingle.

Networking tip #9
Relax and enjoy yourself

Now while I’m a firm believer in having a strategy and a plan with a set intention, once you’ve got all that in place it’s time to relax and enjoy yourself.

Networking isn’t hard work if you’re well prepared and all the benefits from getting out there will flow to you if you are having a good time.  The more authentic and natural you are the more attractive you will be. So trust in getting your intention delivered and simply go with the flow.

Networking tip #10
Follow up

It goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway. If you invest all the time and money to get out there and network and don’t follow up with the potential clients or connections you make then it’s all been for nothing. The good news is you’re in control so that’s entirely up to you!

Build my 10 tips into your in person networking and you should see get more results out of the time and money you invest because it will show up as more business opportunities and more clients. Plus you’ll have a whole lot more fun!