Have you ever attended a networking meeting or live event where someone clearly has an agenda? They push their business card in your face, speak mostly about themselves, and generally come across like a pushy, in-your-face sales person, before rushing off to speak with the next unfortunate victim!
The idea of networking can make many heart-centred business owners feel uncomfortable, shy… or even confused. We all want for our business connections to be fruitful. Whether it’s meeting potential collaboration partners, meeting those that will recommend us heartily to others, or making strong connections with those that will eventually become a new client.
With networking being a “business activity” it can often make people behave quite strangely, in a way that they would never otherwise do, if they were having a conversation with a friend.
The trick with this is to present yourself with confidence and clarity, and know how to take advantage of the outstanding opportunities that in-person events and networking offer, without coming off like a desperado!
Here are some quick tips to help you get off on the right foot when networking so that you can make valuable contacts and quickly start seeing rapid transformations in your business.
1. It Starts with Reciprocity
The whole premise of networking is one of reciprocity. Your goal should be to help other people – something I’m sure comes very naturally to most of you reading this now! It’s far more important to understand the needs of the person you’re speaking with before you tell them about your needs.
There is nothing more off putting than being hunted down like prey by a self-serving individual keen to make a sale. Instead ask questions, show a genuine interest and find out more about the person you are speaking to, with the intention of being of service. The more you can show that you understand, know and really “get” the person, the better your relationship will be, and the more business opportunities you’re likely to gain.
2. Set an Intention
Before attending any networking event it is wise to be clear on your intention. So often I hear of women attending event after event without really knowing why they are attending. It’s lovely to hear a guest expert speak, meet great people, have a chat and make friends, but if you are unclear about how being at that event will actually grow your business, then you may as well have stayed at home!
Some things that you may hold as your intention are: To increase your visibility within your niche. Connect with other colleagues. Connect with potential collaboration or referral partners. Get on the radar of an event host or other heavy-hitting players in the room with the intention of building a stronger relationship later on. To grow your list and make connections with potential clients or find someone who will interview you for their list.
3. Follow Up, Follow Up, Follow Up!
Actually, I’m going to reframe that! So many people get hung up by the idea of following up. So instead I like to think of it as nurturing your current network. Most people think of networking as reaching out to new people, but don’t forget about the network that you already have. You are more likely to build stronger business connection with the people that already know, like and trust you.
Try to contact one person per day. If you reach out to 5 new people every week; that amounts to almost 250 per year. Sending an email or making a quick call will only take about 5 minutes of your day. Not everyone is going to get back to you, but if you contact that many new people, then you’re bound to make significant progress.
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