Are you tired of attending networking events that don't provide the results you are looking for? You may be feeling defeated, and wondering if all of the hype around networking for small business is just that, hype.
Do you find yourself asking, “Can't there be an better way to network?"
I am a firm believer in the success of networking to create relationships, find potential clients and promote your business. Knowing how to network effectively is more important than attending event after event without a sincere purpose. The secret is to understand that you need to take the time to get to know the networkers as people first and as prospects last.
Follow these 7 steps and you will be on the right path:
1. Find the Right Forum
Not all networking events are created equal. There are groups that are business-focused, social networks, support networks and more. I suggest that to figure out which style suits you best, visit different groups in your trading area to see which you feel the most connected with. Speak with the organizer of the event, they often have the most influence over the atmosphere of the event, providing the agenda or format for the meeting. The members who attend contribute to the energy within the group. Learn from the regular attendees to find out why they enjoy being part of their group, then decide if it is also a good fit for you. And ask yourself; Is this a group of people that you will enjoy spending time with to nurture the know, like and trust essentials of building a business relationships?
2. Don't Settle for Second Best
Who is your ideal market? Is it your intention to network with those people face-to-face? Or are you meeting other business owners who also serve their needs? Are you spending your time with others who understand and are interested in your services? There are different levels within business that you need to be aware of. Understand how you fit into the hierarchy and ask yourself; “Do these people find value in what I do?" If they aren't interested and don't ask you questions, you may be out of their league. If so, move on, and move up a level to a more affluent group of business people.
3. Be Deliberate with Your Presence
There are three basic types of networkers:
- The Hunter, who locates their potential prey and pursues them relentlessly. If you have a universal type of product, one that almost everyone at the venue would easily and immediately buy into, the hunter approach may be just what you need.
- The Scavenger, who hands out a business card to everyone without spending the time to make a genuine connection. If you are unconcerned with the quality of customer you are looking for, and don't need to rely on personal relationship, scavenging is an effortless yet inefficient way of getting your business.
- The Gatherer, who spends time listening, laughing and learning about others. The developer of long term relationships, who cares about their clients and instills compassion and eventually trust.
Decide which type you will be at each event and be deliberate with your presence.
4. Set Your Intention of How You Will Serve the People You Meet
The most important concept that will allow you to create successful relationships within a networking environment is to understand that you can provide value to others without selling them your product or service. You will create greater trust and further opportunities if you believe one simple concept. Once you serve their needs first, yours will be taken care of in the end. Hold that intention with every conversation and be patient.
5. Listen, Learn and Laugh
Take the time to get to know the people you meet. It is essential to let your guard down and listen. Ask questions. Learn about who they are, what they do. There is nothing worse that being pitched a product or service that you don't need, don't want and aren't interested in. And remember to bring your sense of humor. The best way to break down barriers is to share a good laugh.
6. Pitch Perfectly
Have you found a great lead? Is this your ideal client? Before you get too excited, have your pitch down pat. This is the “make it or break it" of your meeting. Timing is everything. You can lose rapport if you rush the exchange. Have the pitch ready but be patient with the delivery.
7. Take the Time to Make the Time Follow up
Simply and efficiently. After you have made a contact, started a relationship, and created some trust, now is the time to continue to show your potential client that you are still interested in them, not just their business. First impressions are important but a lasting impression takes a genuine commitment. Take the lead and continue to build the relationship, you will be rewarded in the end.
Daina Bright “The Success Coach" is a motivational speaker, coach, writer and Mompreneur. She provides a FREE ezine `Clear Path Success and Survival Guide’ that inspires women to follow their own path to success. If you are ready to achieve your goals and gain more freedom, time and success on your terms, visit her site at http://www.Brightambitions.com for more great resources.