Networking is where it is at. Meeting others, building relationships with them and spreading the word about the services you offer is something that no entrepreneur or small business can afford to overlook. Here are some tips for making that next networking event worth your while.
- Set your intention before you go. Take a few minutes to think about what the best outcome of this particular networking occasion could be for you. What is the next thing you want to show up in your world to support you in moving forward? If your first answer to this question is “money” or “customers,” I encourage you to dig a little deeper and get more specific.
- Practice your introduction. Even if it is just while you are driving to the event, practice your key phrases before you are on the spot. Since your needs change all of the time, you should be going to each event with a new hope, and therefore a new way to introduce yourself and explain what you are all about. Get comfortable with the current version.
- Bring your business cards and a pen. I recommend that you have a business card with a matte surface and plenty of white space so you can take notes. Write yourself a reminder on the cards you receive and write your new acquaintance a brief note when you give a card away.
- Collect contact information. If you are at a networking event, or participating in the networking portion of a bigger event (such as a luncheon or educational talk) it is important to remember that you are there to meet people, not to sell to them. Collect their contact information and ask them for permission to follow-up if there is reason to. Then meet some more people.
- Serve. Listen carefully to what people tell you and do your best to understand it. When you reflect it back to them, they will know you have understood and will relax and be ready to hear you.Have faith that you will receive what you are seeking by doing your best to offer support to others.
- Be their hero. Many people are uncomfortable networking, but not you. When you have met someone and exchanged information, release them to network some more. Say something like; “It has been great meeting you MaryAnn, and I think we both understand what one another are up to. How about we both head out there to meet some more people? After all, we are here to network.” They will love you for it, and you both increase the number of introductions you can make.
- Have fun! Be yourself, be open and honest. The people you meet may not become a customer… but they might become your friend! Either way, they are more likely to respond to you if you are relaxed and having a good time.
These are just a few tips to help you get the most out of your next networking session. Now, grab your business cards and get out there and shake some hands!