Is Networking Really Working for You?
MGS Designz & More is all about helping you succeed in your business. We’ve aligned ourselves with some really talented people that help us bring you some exciting and useful tips and information that will definitely put you on the path to success. Today we’d like to bring you some important Networking Tips brought to you by the Bridge Business View. The Bridge Business View is full of wonderful content – every now and then we’ll share some of that content here with you. If you’re looking for a place to network – check out The Bridge Networking Group today!
12 Tips for Getting the MOST out of Networking – by Sam Black
- DO attend lots of networking events each month. The more you attend, the more opportunities you have to meet that person who needs your product or service. Make it a point to attend at least one a week… and more is better. Go to several different Chamber events within a 30 minute drive each month – breakfasts, lunches and dinner programs are available to meet every busy schedule. No excuses! Also attend meetings of relevant professional associations and groups and Rotary or Toastmasters. Networking is like dating – you won’t find that match if you are sitting in your office. Plus, networking is so much more fun and productive than COLD calling. It allows you to make a WARM call to a prospect you met at an event and might even get you some HOT referrals if you do it right! Referrals are good!
- DON’T go with a friend or business associate to stand or sit with that person during the socializing time and/or meal time. Your goal is to meet new people. And, when you sit with people from your company, you not only limit the number of new people you will meet but you also limit the new prospects the other table members will meet. That’s not fair to them. They came to meet people from many companies, not just your company. I see this so often and am puzzled. Five sales reps from the same printing company sat at the same table – even after I jokingly said while on the check-in line “you all are sitting at different tables, right?” It would have been much better for that company to come back with 5 x 7 = 35 possible printing connections instead of only the 3 they got! I also watched bank managers do the same at a different event, all four from the same bank at one table – why?
- DO come prepared with a sufficient number of your business cards (please, never run out of them), your 30-second powerful “elevator” introduction, and 3-4 open-ended key questions you want to ask anyone you meet. These are questions about THEIR business that show you are interested, give you information about what they do and need, and might give you insights on how you could help them. People like to talk about themselves and these questions help you get the conversation going. Some suggestions -“How did you get into this business?” “What are some projects you are working on right now?” “How are you planning on building your business this year?” “What key challenges do you face trying to build your business?”
- DON’T talk about yourself – it’s NOT about what you need – it’s about what they may need from you…or from the people you know who you can direct them to for assistance or solutions. Its building relationships and their confidence in you as a resource – the business you want from them will come because they will view you as that “go-to” person.
- DO pay attention to what they are saying, and make appropriate notes on the back of their business card so later you can think about resources for them. In fact, as you enter them into your database later that evening, you’ll probably think of several other people in your database that you can connect them with to help with a need they may have verbalized that day. Shoot off an email with those contacts “Great to meet you. I thought about what you told me today – here are some people that you might want to talk with about the ______ you mentioned today…” A good networker should be able to send that type of email out to at least 2-3 people after each networking event. Think of all the good will and credibility you build as a resource when you do this!
- DON’T let your eyes wander looking for other people in the room. For stand-up networking, the person in front of you is the most important person in the room for the next 3-5 minutes. You may break away graciously to meet someone else after you have made your connection and followed #9 below (if applicable.) Then, simply say “I’ve enjoyed meeting you. Let me let you circulate some more so you can meet a few more people and make other connections. (I will call you _______.).”
- DO ask, “what type of help can I give you to be successful in your business?” You never know what resources you have in your mental rolodex right then and there that will be perfect for their needs.
- DON’T transact business or try to sell during a social networking event. It’s a time to make connections and start relationships, not promote and close on a product or service you want to sell.
- DO ask for either a firm appointment later in the week or for the best time to call to schedule that time to meet. If you believe this person and you can help each other, make this time valuable by verbalizing that feeling so the individual will be eager to schedule the appointment when you call (and know that it will be a two-way street.) “I think I might have some ideas to help you, and I suspect you might know someone who needs my product/service or you yourself might benefit from my product/service. Let’s get together for a coffee to discuss how we can help each other build our businesses. I’ll call you on _______ to schedule it, OK?” In addition to at least one networking event each week, DO schedule at least one networking follow-up “coffee” meeting a week. That’s where substantial value comes from your social networking event.
- DON’T monopolize the table conversation if it is a sit-down event.
- DO, however, initiate introductions and conversations if you are at a quiet table. The participants will appreciate your effort and you will earn a reputation as someone who makes the table interesting and fun. Bring everyone out of their shell!
- DON’T go to the networking event expecting immediate business! You will be disappointed. So many people tell me they don’t go to networking events because “I never get any business out of them; they are a waste of my time.” Please change your view of networking! Networking is the start of a process, the beginning of relationship building. If you avoid networking you will be missing a viable way of building your connections in your business community. If you are nervous about doing it, the more you do it the more comfortable you will get. Practice makes perfect! Most successful business people – owners and sales reps – will tell you that networking has been an integral part of their marketing model. Remember, networking leads to WARM or HOT calls…and those are the ones we want!
See you next week at a networking event!