Your Business is your Brand – It is a reflection of you. Networking is a fundamental marketing tool. Come along to one of PBC’s events and share your networking stories. We can all learn from each other. In the meantime here are 10 practical networking tips to help you develop your networking skills and to maximize the business benefits of every event you attend.
1. Develop a ‘networking mindset’; Remember everybody else is there to do the same thing as you and this can make for some very focused conversations. To paraphrase JFK, ask not what others can do for you but what you can do for them.
2. Develop and practice your ‘elevator pitch’. Focus on the BENEFITS that your business provides, not products and services. “I help my clients profitably grow their businesses” is a lot better than, “I sell one-on-one coaching.” When they ask questions, you know you are getting it right.
3. Choose to attend only those events that are relevant to your particular business sphere. Always do your homework on the speakers and guest list.
4. Target specific participants and make sure to meet those you identify as best prospects and rehearse the questions you will ask them.
5. Note that there are 5 stages in every networking interaction; 1) The ‘mutual introduction’. 2) The ‘questioning’ stage. 3) The ‘connections’ stage. 4) The ‘agreement’ stage. 5) The ‘close’. Practice makes perfect, role play in advance to gain confidence.
6. Be sure to ‘work the event’ and ‘press the flesh’ with a smile and confidence. Make a ceremony out of presenting your business cards, when asked for it. Always ask others for their card first. If they don’t ask for yours, cut to stage. Work the room not the buffet table. If you came just for the food, then forget these tips and bon appetit. But if you are there to work then this is not the time to be eating or drinking too much.
7. Be INTERESTED not INTERESTING. Listen and respond with empathy to your fellow networkers. Good networking begins with understanding the point of view of the person opposite.
8. NETWORKING IS NOT SELLING. People that are too pushy at networking events quickly get that reputation and are avoided by most people. Be a connector of others and make them feel good with warm introductions.
9. For big events, rich in potential contacts, consider ‘double teaming’. Take a colleague along with you and either split the prospect list in half, or co-network.
10. Keep your promises to follow up. It is the basic first step to build trust between you and your local business community.
Interested? Download my Networking white paper for many more tips and become a master networker.
This originally appeared in my September 2012 Newsletter.