As entrepreneurs and business owners, many of us love to network in order to meet new people in hopes of developing valuable relationships. This is due in large part to the saying: your network is your net worth. So we apply this thinking in our pursuit of networking activities. The problem that exist though is that many of us do not know how to network effectively.
How many people do you see at networking events who just stay to themselves hoping someone else comes up to speak first? Or how about the person who just passes out their card without even engaging with you first? Sadly, people are just clueless to the process of effective networking. I see this bad behavior all the time when I go out to networking events and it is what stops people from producing key connections when networking.
What I am going to provide for you is Networking 101. I am going to tell you exactly how to be successful with your networking activities.
- Have a Plan in Mind. Know what your objective is when you attend a networking event. What specific type of people are you focused on meeting? Do you plan to work the entire room or only stick to an exact number of people? Pose such questions and know the answers so you can have a strategy in mind that guides your actions. When your actions have purpose, you are focused on producing results instead of wasting time aimlessly wandering amongst strangers.
- Be Personable. This means don’t just walk up to someone, quickly introduce yourself, hand them a card and then walk away to quickly find your next hit and run victim. That is very bad behavior and it makes people just leave your card on the table or in the trash. When you walk up to someone, really engage with them. Look them in the eyes, smile while in conversation, listen to what they have to say and respond with feedback that acknowledges what they communicated to you. The best way to be remembered is to be a pleasant face with intriguing conversation that makes people take a mental note of your shared interaction.
- Forget the Sales Pitch. You don’t even know the person or what they are looking for as far as business goes but you are already in sales mode. Wrong approach. What you must do is take interest in the person first and let the rest come naturally. You will notice that people will actually tell you their problems/ needs when they feel comfortable with you and establish trust. Coming off as the typical sales person turns people away. When you actually express interest though, people will show you the same respect and openly give you a chance to pitch your sale
- Follow Up. Probably the most important component that many people networking forget. Following up is so important because it establishes that you want a continued connection that develops into a valuable relationship. Don’t wait for the other person to contact you. Take the lead on this initiative in order to keep the initial exchange going so it is not forgotten. When to follow up? The very next day! People easily forget so you want to remain fresh in their mind.
Follow these four networking tips and I promise you your networking efforts will greatly improve. Networking = Time. Just as you should not waste valuable time doing nothing that does not produce value for you. You should not waste away networking opportunities with nonproductive behavior.