7 WAYS TO MAKE NETWORKING EASIER
Learning how to network for business effectively is a very powerful tool for growth. Effective networking is all about developing valuable relationships over time. It’s about growing a pool of people who know about and value what you do.
The benefit of a good network is it gives you resources, inspiration, information, and connection to potential clients and referrals. As a small business owner it’s an important element of my marketing mix to regularly scheduling networking activities that increase my exposure and contacts.
This week’s blog article provides 7 ways to make networking easier, especially if social occasions make you anxious like me. These tips will help prepare you so you can network like a pro even if you are an introvert or inexperienced.
Practice on people you are comfortable with If the idea of approaching people you don’t know intimidates you, begin your networking efforts by seeking out familiar faces, such as relatives and friends, at school and sporting occasions. A series of successful conversations will make you more confident in the process.
Body Language It’s important to make eye contact and remember people’s names, so practice until you perfect this. Not only is this good manners, it is an easy way to show people they matter and you have been paying attention. Smile a warm authentic smile: it puts people at ease and we all look our best when we smile. Practice your handshake. Aim for firm but not a vice-like grip. Try to be the first to extend, indicates confidence and an interest in others.
Presentation Make the effort to present yourself well as first impressions leave an impression. Dress so you are comfortable, yet look smart. Showing you care about your presentation communicates that you care about your business and clients. Have plenty of your business cards on hand and a pen.
Be prepared Be very clear about who your potential client is, what they need and what problem you solve for them. Be able to describe your offer simply yet confidently. Be proud of what you offer, passion is compelling and magnetic. Be willing to share what you know, who you know and who you are in order to offer as much value as possible. Focus on what you can give rather than what you are hoping to gain. If networking makes you super anxious, write down a list of interesting questions to ask people you have just met that you might like to be asked. People particularly love to talk about themselves, so open questions work well and genuinely listen to people. A good listener is always valued. Think about anyone you know that the person you are talking to could benefit from meeting. People love people who love to help people.
Take it easy You will never meet everyone at large networking events. Trust that you will meet who you need to whether it be for your benefit or because you can add value to their business. Keep an eye out for the mover and shaker in the room, take advantage of their knowledge. Expert networkers are connectors and love connecting others. Even if you don’t know them, introduce yourself and talk a little about what brought you to the event and ask they know whom might be good for you to talk to.
Follow up system Develop a system for keeping in touch or following up with people you connect with. Find simple ways to re-connect, whether it’s to follow through on a promise of an introduction, or an article on a topic you discussed. Make it natural, authentic and not too frequent. You are aiming to build a normal relationship that happens to provide an opportunity for both of you to benefit.
Schedule networking Building a strong professional network takes time. Like a marathon it takes regular training efforts. The best approach is to schedule time each week to research events that suit your business goals, whether it’s for other likeminded business owners or to find customers. If It’s not scheduled it isn’t likely to happen in the regular fashion that makes a difference.
Networking is about building real relationships, actively maintaining them, and giving as much as you receive, without expecting anything in return.