It’s no surprise that networking is a common approach entrepreneurs use to meet new people, expand their network and build relationships that are mutually beneficial. While personal introductions and recommendations can lead to new business opportunities, building connections is not easy and it takes time.
The new year often brings an upswing in events to get you in front of new people. But the bitter cold and snow this February has certainly made it challenging to get out there. Fortunately, you can still be visible when you are stuck indoors. By combining social networking with live events, you can build valued contacts in any climate.
So while you wait for the weather to warm up, why not begin building a stronger presence on social networking sites like Linked-In. When done right, it helps you connect with other professionals and build a quality network online. You’ll have more success if you remember two things: be helpful and be engaging. Share your knowledge. Connect others. Be a resource.
When you do get back out there and attend business networking events, make your efforts pay off. Here’s five tips to do it right.
- Prepare. Many events today have online registration. Check out the list of attendees and refresh your memory so you can use names when you see people you’ve met previously. Plan how you will introduce yourself in less than 10 seconds. And if you need a commercial, have one prepared. With a little planning, you can make a bigger impact.
- Focus On Building Not Selling. Creating strong, long-term connections takes time. People are more willing to engage when you make them feel comfortable. This is not the time to sell. It’s time to be inquisitive!
- Ask Questions. Nothing says you are truly interested better than asking specific questions. Make the conversation about them. It’s a great way to learn more, find ways to help and demonstrate you care. Build rapport with questions – and remember to listen too!
- Stay Memorable. Most people will forget contacts they met at an event within 3 days – unless you make it a point to stay in their head. Whether it’s an email, phone call or invitation to connect socially, make sure you follow-up quickly – within 48 hours! Don’t blow the chance to make an impact, follow up!
- Connect Others. When you feel someone would benefit from an introduction to someone in your network, take action to connect them. It shows your willingness to help and both parties will remember! They may even reciprocate – and connect you with someone else!
Like most marketing, integration of online and offline networking works best. So take advantage of both methods – social and live events, to expand your network. Be proactive. Have a system. Take the necessary steps to start building those relationships today.
Need help building systems for networking and other areas of your business? Then check out my Ultimate Systems Guide for Small Businesses.
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