In order to get the most out of your networking efforts you really need to be prepared and employ a series of effective strategies. If you do not have a plan about how you are going to leverage your gains from events, you will just be wasting your time and money.
Here are some possible strategies you can employ to bring you a steady flow of new clients/customers and collaborative partners.
- Offer to give referrals to your contacts. In this way you are not asking for anything in return and are creating good will as well as demonstrating what effective networking is all about… building a reliable, beneficial network of valuable business contacts.
- Ask this person who their ideal client is… age, gender, business type or size, specific needs, etc. How do they get new business? Do they reward referrals? Do they have recommendations from current or previous clients?
- Be prepared to briefly describe your perfect client.
- Always carry lots of business cards. Perhaps offer something special with your card that would be of benefit to a new client or a referring contact.
- Actively seek out quality networking clients with whom you can be mutually beneficial regarding referrals, collaborative work or complementary work. Then you can share clients.
- Be more interested in this new contact… let them tell you about them. Compliment them on something they have told you. You will be remembered if you are a good listener, helpful, and interesting.
- Be generous with support, encouragement, and possible business tips you share with those you meet. The more giving you are, the more valuable you will be and more people will want to be in contact with you… which can open the doors of opportunity.
- Always be honest, authentic, and brief… remember, less is more!
- Come with a plan of how you will spend your time, how many new contacts you wish to gain, what you will offer and what you wish to learn.
- Always do follow up after the event… there is no point in spending time and money at networking events if you do not gain anything from them. I always wear something with pockets so I can put the business cards I receive in some sort of priority. In that way, when I get home, the people I wish to get to know better, I either call the next day or email that night (if it is not too late) to arrange a coffee so that we can explore our options further. Those I was truly interested in go in one pocket, the others go in a second pocket. If someone I was not very interested in contacts me, I will still consider the meeting. You never can tell for sure where you next referral might come from.
- Prepare your “elevator pitch” and keep it short, to the point, and intriguing enough that others will want to learn more about what you do and who you are.
- Mingle with the crowd and pick out some individuals to speak with… you can do it from a refreshment line up, from the seating arrangements, etc… depends on the type of event.
- Be sure to smile and be friendly… just get out there and work the crowd. Yes, for some people this is uncomfortable, however, the more you do it, the better you will get at being sociable and gaining new contacts. Don’t forget that you will learn more if you listen than if you talk!
- Join social media, the one I like best is LinkedIn, however I also use Twitter and sometimes, Google+. It is time consuming, so budget the time you spend there, and always keep your profile current, honest and active… no one pays attention to a static profile, so post updates, offer helpful information, and try to be in touch with as many of your contacts as is possible through their profile updates, anniversaries, new positions, etc.
Effective Networking Matters!
Networking is a key means for getting your business known, establishing your brand and increasing your presence and profile in your community and farther, with the use of social media. The more you are out there, especially if you are brave enough to offer some speaking time at the meet ups, the more you will be touted as an expert in your field and the more likely you will acquire recommendations that you can use when working with new prospects. Most importantly, have some fun!!
Originally published by Bizcatalyst360
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