Business networking is a common strategy employed by businesses, especially when we start a new year. It’s a great way to establish new contacts and build strong relationships that can be mutually beneficial – producing a constant stream of quality referrals. But it requires more than being visible – and just showing up.
Here are a few reminders to help you build better connections and more win-win opportunities:
Avoid Selling. People like doing business with people they know and trust and this takes more than a one-minute conversation to develop. Don’t turn off potential prospects or power partners with a strong sales pitch! Be patient. Use networking to start a conversation and build a foundation for a future call or meeting.
Plan a Brief Introduction. If you met someone new at a party or your kid’s soccer game, would you spend 60 seconds introducing yourself? Then why do so at a networking event. Regardless of who initiates the introduction, keep yours short and concise. It should include your name, company, and area of specialty. Since many small business names provide a clue about the type of business, use the area of specialty to hit on a benefit or uniqueness. Be creative but brief.
Engage People With Questions. Questions are one of the most powerful engagement tools. Whether you follow your introduction with one or use one as a method to continue a conversation, questions say ‘I’m interested’. Have a few planned questions in your arsenal and use them effectively to build rapport and create meaningful discussions. Remember to be a good listener too!
Stay Memorable. Out of sight, out of mind. Even with the best intentions, most people forget those they meet at events within 2-3 days. So timely follow-up is important. Connect socially on Linked-In; it’s a great way to keep their name, face and specialty visible. Drop them a brief email or call them to schedule a meeting – in person or via phone. Since most people fail to follow-up, a good system consistently done can help you stand out in the crowd!
Be a Connector. While some event attendees may be potential customers or power partners, others may not. But meaningful conversations may help you connect that person with someone else – to solve a problem or forge a new alliance. It builds your reputation as a great resource and gives you the satisfaction that comes from helping others.
Networking, like any marketing strategy, works best when done consistently and with a purpose. Don’t just show up, make it count.
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To learn more or schedule an appointment, call me at (856) 533-2344 or drop me an email Joan@HybridBizAdvisors.com