Networking is an important part of modern business building. For the solo entrepreneur this is especially critical. Networking is a great way to build trust and rapport with potential customers and establish a publicly recognized presence. It is about giving and receiving and building relationships. It is a great way to make people aware of you, your skills, and how and where to find you. The following steps will help you network at your next event or gathering with confidence and poise.
Step 1 KNOW WHAT YOU BRING TO THE TABLE
What skills, talents, resources, connections, or information that you have to offer the individual members of the group. You DO bring something that no one else there has. We all have unique perspectives and experiences to bring to the event especially if you have a unique talent or years of experience. Your fellow networkers will want to get to meet you based on what you do and how you present yourself.
“Know thyself” means so much in a networking situation. There really is six degrees or less of separation. We live in a world that the connectedness is growing ever rapidly. If you know what you bring to the table and who you want to connect with you can gain access to virtually anyone!
Networking is an exercise in relationship building not an imposition on those you are reaching out to meet. It is an opportunity to:
- Share your expertise
- Exchange ideas
- Learn of educational opportunities
- Meet other experts
Step 2 HONESTY COUNTS
You must have a willingness to provide value to those who meet you. It can’t be all about you and what you are going to get out of the event. Your credibility is at stake! You must be sincere and honest when you interact with others at a networking event. Focus on your integrity and your trustworthiness will help you build a network of other people of high integrity. People can spot insincerity at 20 paces and will avoid those like the plague.
People will avoid those who they perceive as lacking any business quality of real value. You must go with a trust building agenda rather than a goal oriented agenda. Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about them. Focus on the other person and ask them why they are there and what you can do for them. If you can identify what they need you will build a lasting relationship. Ask…listen…and then ask again. Sincerity counts!
Steps 3 DELIBERATELY BUILD YOUR NETWORK
Who do you want to add to your network? What types of people and companies do you want to associate your business with and how will you focus your efforts to connect with these people? What role will each play in your network?
According to networking guru Anthony Robbins, “Successful people ask more questions, and as a result, get better answers. To maintain viability in the rapidly changing business world it is critical to build trust. A good networker knows that a real network is a two-way street of helpful relationships. It is all about Karma. You help someone and they will help you. Good things come back to those who do good.
Step 4 PERSONALIZE YOUR NETWORKING EFFORTS
Where, how, and with who will you network? What types of events do you want to attend? How often will you go? What will you irresistible offer will you make to those you meet? How will you dress? How will you present your business card? What is the most effective elevator speech you will use?
Why should anyone give you their business card? What method is most effective? What works for you?
- Elevator speech – never offer your card to someone without also delivering a sound byte on what you do and how you do it.
- One for one exchange – offer a report, article or free e-book that contains valuable information. Ask them if you can call them afterwards to follow up.
Steps 5 FOLLOW UP
Giving a follow up call demonstrates that you are a professional committed to your business. This can not only lead to new business but to great referrals which will grow your business at a phenomenal rate.
Follow up after every networking opportunity is critical to the trust process. Not only is it courteous but it impresses the heck out of people that you demonstrate loyalty and respect to everyone.
Get the most out of your next networking event. It is a critical part of doing business today whether you are a new business or one with a well established history and clientele. Go in with the attitude that you are building relationships and your are there to give more than you receive. Now let’s get out there and network!