In today’s fast-paced world, it’s not WHAT you know–but WHO you know–that will help you accomplish your goals. Effective networking is an essential part of attracting business.
When attending a networking event, have a plan before you arrive. Take some time to outline what you most want to accomplish. Set realistic goals for yourself. For instance, decide ahead of time that you want to meet three new people, reconnect with two people you’ve met before, and book one or two follow-up meetings or phone calls. Show up with an intention, and you are more likely to make the most of your time.
Here are six effective networking tips:
1. Be curious!
When you start a conversation with someone you’ve just met, instead of trying to be interesting, be interested in the person you are speaking with. Ask lots of open-ended questions about them so you can learn more about them, their business, and what excites them. Pretend like you’re a curious reporter. Most people love talking about themselves. “It activates the same pleasure centers in the brain as sex and cocaine,” according to Celeste Headlee, author of We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter. Take good notes and keep them in your contact manager so you will remember what’s important to them.
DON’T give them your business card unless they ask for it.
2. Be a good listener.
Listening is one of the most important skills in networking. We were given two ears and one mouth. Listen two-thirds of the time and talk one-third of the time. When you deeply listen to someone else, you really get to know them, and they feel valued and cared about. By deeply listening, you will also be able to quickly determine if this is someone you want to build a relationship with and eventually do business with.
DON’T corner someone at a networking event and spend the next 5 minutes telling them way more than they want to know about you. We call that “throwing up all over someone.” If they ask what you do, give a short answer and ask them a question to get them talking.
3. Be helpful.
Those who become a valuable resource for others are remembered as someone who cares. Here is a great question to ask the person you are talking with: “Who would be a good referral for you?” or “How can I be a resource for you?”
DON’T attend a networking event with the intention to GET something from someone else. It’s about what you can GIVE. Ask yourself, “Am I giving to GIVE or am I giving to GET?” People will pick up on your motives pretty fast! For more on this topic, read my previous blog post, Are You a Giver or a Getter?
4. Be consistent.
Networking is something that must be done over time. Consistently attend the same networking event, and over time you’ll build trust and credibility. As you help others, you will become known as the reliable go-to person in your field, providing helpful information and referrals. It takes consistent effort over time to expand your circle of influence.
DON’T be a serial networker who skips around from one networking group to another. An effective networker gets involved long enough to get to know people and contribute to their life.
5. Grow a large network.
It’s not who YOU know, but who THEY know. The average person has 250 people in their network. Each can connect you to their 250 people… that equates to 62,500 potential connections! The person you are speaking with at a networking event may not be your ideal client, but they know hundreds of other people. As you grow your network, you expand your circle of influence. The more people you know, the more referrals you can give to others. Soon you will have a reputation as someone others want to know, because knowing you can bring value to them and their business.
DON’T collect business cards unless you plan to keep in touch. Having a large network is only helpful if people remember you.
6. Follow Up
If you have attended many networking events, you’ve probably passed out your business card to hundreds of people. In most cases, they never call. Even those who express interest in what you have to offer are not likely to follow up with you.
Always have your calendar with you. Then you can book a follow-up call or appointment right there in the room when you have the person in front of you and interested. Ask the person, “Can we set up a time to connect further on this? I have my calendar available now.” Then suggest a day and time for a follow-up meeting/phone call. When you do this, you’re making it easy for the other person to meet with you.
If you do not schedule the next contact while you’re at the meeting, text the person within 24 hours of meeting them, suggesting that you get together for coffee so you can learn more about them. If you don’t have their cell phone number, email or call them to set up a time.
Here’s a really powerful way to be remembered. Snap a photo of you with the person you just met on your smartphone and send them a physical “nice to meet you” greeting card in the mail. To access an app that enables you to send a real paper greeting card directly from your smartphone or tablet, visit ExpressGratitude.info.
DON’T end a conversation with someone without collecting THEIR contact information so you can follow up with them. Effective networkers always have a way to capture important information after they’ve established rapport.
No matter where I go, I always carry some “blank” business cards with me in the event that someone I meet does not have a business card with them or their card does not include their mailing address. I also ask for their birthday, as I like to send birthday cards…a great way to stand out from the crowd when everyone else is posting birthday wishes on Facebook.
The back of this card provides a great place for jotting down personal notes about interests, affiliations, connections, family, accomplishments, goals, or anything else I want to remember about the person I’ve just met. This gets recorded in the “notes” section of my contact manager. These notes become a key part of my success in building relationships. Although I don’t have great memory recall, my ability to access my notes would lead people to think otherwise!
For more tips on great follow-up and staying in touch with those you’ve met, check out my free Relationship Marketing webinar.
When you employ all six of these tips over time, you will experience amazing results building relationships, which is the foundation for building a solid and profitable business.
Did any of these tips resonate with you? Please share your networking tips and experiences below.
If you’d like some additional help, check out these resources:
- Blog: Be Remembered: Tips for Writing Effective Messages (Part 1)
- Blog: Be Remembered: Tips for Writing Effective Messages (Part 2)
- Blog: Be Remembered: Tips for Writing Effective Messages (Part 3)
- Free Webinar: Relationship Marketing
- Free eBook: 7 Secrets to Fabulous Follow-up
- Life Blueprint Coaching or Business Coaching with Kathy