Let’s now take a look at some networking tips, do’s and don’ts to enhance your networking success. In the last article we discussed how business networking should be seen more as farming than hunting. Understanding that networking is about building long term relationships of know, like and trust.
It is hugely beneficial to have a group of trusted contacts who are looking out for business for you.
5 Networking etiquette tips
Arrive early and don’t be the late comer.
You will feel much more comfortable especially if you don’t like having everyone watching you come in. This also gives you time to network with others even before the event starts.
Ensure you have cash.
Some events require you to pay on the door or to buy your own drinks. It could be embarrassing if you don’t have your entrance fee. Not all events take cards.
Arrive bright and ready to network.
Don’t be the person who moans about how early it is to be out of bed or how bad your day was.
Always show gratitude when you receive a referral.
Follow up referrals immediately. Give the person who gave you the referral feedback about the results. This makes them feel good and also to ensure if it is the right type of referral you are looking for.
Always deliver on your promises.
It is very difficult to regain trust once it is lost.
10 Networking Tips.
Share knowledge, give referrals and help however you can.
This is probably my most favorite networking tip, “You will get everything you want, if you help enough other people get what they want.”
Become interested in what you can do to help others.
This will build know, like and trust and you will start drawing people to you. It is more important to be interested in them, then trying to be interesting.
Become a connector.
If you can’t help, but you know somebody else that can, introduce them to that person. You might even meet 2 people at the same event and introduce them to each other if you think they have a synergy.
Be a great listener.
Make sure you listen and hear what people are saying. Here is an article on effective listening. Always be listening out for referrals for your fellow networkers. When you have a referral, make sure you have all the necessary information to give to as well.
Ask open ended questions.
In fact you could read the article on powerful questioning, which will give you some fabulous tips.
Be clear and succinct about what you offer.
Why should they do business with you. People can only refer to you if they are clear about what you do and trust that you will deliver on your promise.
Be clear on your ideal client.
Don’t say, “Anybody” or “everybody.” Nobody knows an “anybody” or “everybody,” but we might know somebody if you are specific. You will be surprised how if you ask for a specific name, somebody will know them. It may also come from the least likely of places.
Always carry business cards and have your 60 second elevator pitch ready. We will cover how to write a 60 second elevator pitch in the next article.
Volunteer for leadership positions.
This increases your standing and “trustability.” You will also get more opportunity to connect with guests that visit the group.
Be a people magnet.
Somebody that others want to be around. Be approachable and friendly as people gravitate to those who make them feel at ease and relaxed.
10 Networking Don’ts
Remember these 10 networking tips are things that you should NOT do.
Go with the approach to sell.
Especially not to the people in the room. There might only be 20 people in the room, but if they all know 250 people, there is a potential of 5000 clients.
Throw your business cards around.
Don’t hand out your business cards or flyers like Maverick playing cards. If you don’t build rapport with that person, they will probably just throw your card away.
Ask for referrals and not follow them up.
If somebody took the time to get you a referral, you owe it to yourself and them to follow it up.
Spam people on social media.
You may get blocked and that could be very embarrassing for both you and the person you are spamming.
Add people to your email list without their consent.
Nobody likes to get spam emails.
Don’t suggest to have coffee later just so that you can sell or use them for free advice. Be clear on your intentions.
Try to speak to everybody in the room.
If you just quickly say what you have to say and then move to the next person, you will leave a bad taste in their mouth. Rather have a less quantity, but more quality conversations.
Make assumptions about people.
Don’t judge a book by its cover. Example if you are a lawyer, thinking that the plumber won’t be able to give you business. This is very short sighted. You don’t know who they know.
Write on somebody else’s business card without their consent.
In some cultures that is offensive.
Get involved in gossip or rumors.
This will come back to bite you in the bum. You are there to network, not to gossip. People will not trust you.
5 Reasons why people don’t want to network
Too shy to speak in front of others or be in groups.
How will you then learn to speak to your potential clients? Networking will help you to build your confidence. Remember that others might be feeling the same. Sometimes growth means that we need to get out of comfort zone.
Don’t have the time to network.
Unless you are so busy that you can’t take in new clients, I would suggest that networking should be part of most people’s marketing plan. There are groups that meet at different times of the day to make it more convenient.
People might think I am just there to take.
Or even worse, that I am trying to chat them up. Be honest, sincere and stay interested in others. Let your actions speak for you.
We already know the same people.
It is suggested that we all know at least 250 other people. We also all know and meet different people in our daily business lives. Even so, I bet you that there are people that you know, that don’t know what you do. Sometimes it can be a suggestion of a mutual friend that gets you the business. You may also strengthen your relationship with current clients in the group to ensure you get more of their business.
It doesn’t work for me.
Networking takes time to build up relationships. Remember it is about farming and not hunting. Don’t expect to get business immediately. After all, will you just send anybody around to your moms house or only people you trust?
5 Additional benefits of networking
Why do people go to networking events? Most people go to meet new potential clients. Business owners are always looking for new ways to get orders and to do it with the highest return on investment. Most businesses rely on repeat business as it is less expensive to keep clients, then it is to reach new ones. You are also much more likely to get business from a referral than from a cold call.
There are also other reasons people go networking that are not directly new business related.
Social interaction and support structure.
Business can be a very lonely place and we all need somebody to talk to from time to time. Especially if you work from home.
Networking in itself is a great confidence builder.
You will learn how to become more comfortable speaking in front of others. Networking can also give you motivation to keep on going in tough times.
You can bounce new ideas.
Other business owners might have experience or useful information available to share. People that can give you honest feedback, could make or save you thousands.
To meet trusted contacts and suppliers.
This alone can save you a lot of money in that you build up a relationship with your suppliers. Example it makes it a lot easier than searching the internet to decide who to build you a great website or where to get the best insurance. Working with suppliers that have your best interests at heart. You are much surer to get what you ask for, or that you are buying the right product or service in first place.
Networking is a great place for learning.
You get to know about new standards, laws, rules, marketing strategies etc. Share your knowledge and add value to others. This will help you stand out from other networkers who are just there to take.
Choosing the right group
Visit a number of networking groups and organisations to decide which one will fit you best.
You could probably network every day of the week if you looked hard enough, however I would recommend only joining a couple of groups. That way you build stronger relationships with the people you network with.
Know what you want from your networking efforts.
How will you measure your return on investment to know that networking is working for you? This is not just based on monetary income or sales.
Find the group or groups that suit your requirements.
That might be based on business niche, interests, times and regularity of meetings etc. Look for a group where you feel comfortable and that is going to fulfill your needs.
Make proper commitment.
Ensure you can commit to the groups that you choose to join.
In a future article we will look at how to write a good 60 second pitch that will further enhance your networking success. Until then, I wish you every success.
If you need any help with getting over networking jitters or other coaching requirements, please feel free to reach out.
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