All business is built on relationships and conversations. Networking is crucial for growing your business. Here some tips to get you growing!
How can I use networking to grow my business?
• Develop an attitude of “abundance” instead of “scarcity”. There is enough for everyone. I can give people what they need, and trust that I will get what I need.
• Remember that high-value people attract high-value people and opportunities. Become a high-value person yourself.
• Build your business on warm leads more than cold leads – warm is way easier and way more fun.
• Keep in mind that networking is more about marketing than sales, and is a longer-term vs. shorter-term solution.
• Network to establish and strengthen your brand. Be as visible as possible.
• Energy is money and money is energy. Conversations with helpful people create energy and open up new opportunities.
How do I decide where to network, or evaluate the networks I already have?
• Clearly identify your target market and value proposition.
• If you’re not clear about who your target market actually is, network until you gain clarity.
• Do “generic networking” to start (e.g. Chamber of Commerce).
• Use “targeted networking” to connect with your specific market (professional associations, supplier groups, clients’ networks).
• Use regular and “reverse” trade show marketing at conferences and trade shows – i.e. if you don’t have your own table, circulate anyway, seeking out your target market.
• Network with both potential clients, as well as other connectors who will refer business to you.
• Your networking efforts should be bringing new business opportunities. If not, change strategies.
• Distinguish between “high-value” (to your business), and “low-value” people and opportunities.
What should I say to people?
• Rehearse your “elevator pitch” until you are completely comfortable with it.
• But actually, it’s much more important to listen and ask good questions.
• Be interested in others. Follow your natural curiosity and ask whatever interests you.
• The aim is to connect. Never to sell. Selling comes much later!
• Be yourself. If for some reason people don’t respond well, get feedback and aim to improve.
• Always ask how you can be helpful to others. Who is their ideal client? How can you be helpful? With whom can you connect them?
How can I feel more at ease while networking?
• Notice and acknowledge your anxiety, but put it off to one side. Don’t let it become the main event.
• Breathe deeply.
• Tell yourself “These people are just friends I haven’t met”.
• Never take it personally when someone doesn’t warm up to you. We either resonate or we don’t.
• Watch your self-talk. Acknowledge negative feelings, then set them aside. Negative attitudes are rarely helpful in business. Keep your attitude positive at all times.
How can I actually turn business cards into business?
• Always remember that events are for making connections, not closing sales.
• Never expect events or organizations to “feed” you business. It’s your job to follow up on connections and close sales.
• Connect with many people, but never rush a given conversation. Note who energizes you, and follow up with them.
• Get organized. Use a special networking purse or jacket with external pockets for ease of use.
• Write event, date, and details on back of every single card. The key is always in the follow-up.
• Enter information from cards into Outlook or other database, or keep cards in binders with clear card holders, or card box.
• Write follow-up thank-you notes or emails to strengthen the connection.
How can I use social media to network online?
• Blog to provide continuous, useful information to your target audience.
• Twitter, Linked In, Facebook provide online, continuous networking opportunities.
• Start conversations with people that interest you. Ask questions, answer questions. Create events and use social media to invite people. Track your leads and