Networking is the word which brings sweaty palms and heart palpitations to many, but it need not.
With a few easy strategies you will be able to boost your confidence and overcome your initial fear of business networking. 90 percent of all small businesses get business from referrals, which mean your network is your net worth in business. Sales are the lifeblood of your business. Not only that, repeat business and word of mouth referrals are what will make your business sustainable.
There is no point going anywhere if people don’t remember you were there.
Find an event which you will be comfortable in
You can find business networking events by visiting your local business chamber or looking online. These events can range from conferences to informal coffee conversations with small business owners in your community. focus on meeting only five quality contacts. The reason for this is that you only have a small amount of time to follow up with new people, so five is a manageable number.
By being early for a networking event you will be able to join conversations with people who are not already in a group. It is also a bit more relaxed and calmer at the very beginning of the meeting. You get an opportunity pick out key targets in advance to build your network.
Try to wear a bright or unusual tie, or an interesting necklace. Not only will this be a conversation starter but you could also be noticed and people will be keener to approach you and chat. It is important to wear your name tag, also put it where people are not afraid to look.
It is important to smile. This will encourage others to engage with you. Furthermore, you will come across as warm and inviting. Before you enter the networking event put a smile on your face and leave the negative thoughts at the door.
Make sure you have a prepared a small introduction which you can give to someone should they ask. Ensure that it doesn’t sound like a sales pitch but more like an introduction to you and your company. You can also think of some basic questions to ask people about their job or personal life. Here are some examples: “How did you get into your current field?” “What is there favourite book, hobby or sport?” If they say they do not have time for free time activities, ask them what takes up all their time.
Listen more, Talk less
It is important to actively listen to what the person is saying when you network. This will help you to produce good follow-up questions as well as show the person you are eager to learn about their business. Ensure that you do not dominate the conversation and give the other person time to express their opinion. The body language also has an impact on networking. It’s important that we listen and that the person speaking can see that we are listening through receptive body language. You want to appear open to the person who’s speaking. Avoid crossing your arms in front of you, as this can appear like a defensive stance.
Share your passion
By talking about what you love, you could start a wonderful two-way conversation. You will win people over with your enthusiasm when you speak about your passion and listen to them speak about theirs. In addition, you can share why you choose to start up the business you own.
You have had a great networking event. You spoke and shared your ideas with like-minded people. Now what? It is important to follow up with the individuals who you spoke with. By sending a simple email stating that you enjoyed meeting them you will remain top of mind and they may consider your services when next they need them.
Remember when networking you are reflecting your brand. Therefore, it is important to leave a great first impression. Be present. Listen actively. Always follow up. By following these three points you will be well on your way to building lasting business relationships.