So how does one go about knowing the right people? By networking, of course. Networking should be a core business building tactics for any small business owner. When done right, it can play a decisive role in the success of your business.
Whether at a business event or an informal gathering, here are a few tips for you to get started on networking more effectively:
Keep in mind that networking is about building trust and relationships. So it’s important to always stay true to your personality and represent your business honestly.
No matter how fantastic your product is, it won’t matter at all if others feel you have something to hide. Being authentic will leave a positive impression and encourage people to do business with you instead of your competition.
Before attending any networking event, set a goal for the number of people you’ll meet. Identify a reachable goal based on attendance and the type of group, and don’t leave until you’ve met it. 10 to 15 people can be a good starting point. But be sure to have a meaningful conversation with each person and remember to get their business cards too!
Always ask open-ended questions during your conversation. This means questions that ask who, what, where, when, and how as opposed to those that can be answered with a simple yes or no. This will help open up the discussion and shows listeners that you are interested in them.
Have a clear understanding of what you do and what makes it special or different from others in the same industry. Then make sure you can articulate it easily to others. Try preparing a short yet memorable pitch (10-30 seconds long) that clearly communicates what you do and for whom do you do it for.
With so many acquaintances being made during networking events, it is crucial that you make yourself stand out from the pack. The key to this is to get people’s interest. Know how to gain and keep peoples interest and you will have more success from networking. But don’t go overboard in your attempts. You want to be memorable but only for the right reasons.
Drop a note or give a call to each person you’ve met. If you promised to do something during the initial meeting, make sure you fulfill that promise. And where possible, try to stay in touch with your network on a regular basis. Who knows what new opportunities may arise. This is probably the most important point of networking but you’ll be surprised how many give it a miss!
Successful networkers believe in the ‘givers gain’ philosophy. If you help others, they’ll help you too and everyone benefits as a result of it. In other words, if you don’t genuinely attempt to help the people you meet, then you are not networking effectively. This can be simple things such as giving them a referral or sharing certain information that might be of interest to them.