We have a zillion opportunities to go to networking events… there are enough networking and leads groups out there that we could quite literally have breakfast, lunch, dinner and happy hour with a networking or leads group, each day! But, then when would we find time to actually pay attention to the business side of our business??
We’re all looking to grow and expand our businesses, and we’re all looking for that next customer, and that next referral, right? So, given the plethora of options out there, and our busy schedules, how do we figure out how to make networking really pay off in real, tangible results?
Where to Network?
- General Audience vs. Niche Audience – make sure your schedule has some of both!
- Experiment and try new things/groups from time to time.
- Pick no more than 2-3 “favorite” groups and use those to really begin to cultivate deeper relationships.
How to Network?
- We have 2 ears and 1 mouth… ever wonder why?
- Don’t just collect (cards) – CONNECT (with PEOPLE).
- Don’t use an elevator speech – (tailor your “commercial” to the group)
- Share a story.
- Be authentic.
- Be on the lookout for the next power partner or collaborative relationship – for you or someone else you know!
- Be a good resource for others!
- Do not be easily offended!
- Stay positive!
- Don’t do “hit and runs.” Ever. Come a little early, stay a little bit after the meeting, if you can – but ALWAYS make a connection. If you do find yourself in a position where you need to leave early, apologize to the group instead of just “sneaking” out.
- Create an opening for someone to come up to you and talk… wear something distinct, or have something of interest with you that invites conversation. When someone comes up to you, don’t just answer their question… ask questions of your own!
- Don’t wait until you need something to make a connection! If you haven’t seen someone at your networking in a while, reach out to them. Invite them to coffee… find out what is happening in their life.
- Networking really is about making GENUINE connections… if that isn’t what you are doing, you are truly wasting your time.
- Always remember… what goes around, comes around. Take the time out to do someone a favor, make them feel welcome, give a shout-out or make a referral… you really will see it return to you ten-fold down the road!