Is this the most important part of your business?
I often talk about how important building relationships is within business, that can help build partnerships, gain more work for yourself, and help reach out to new people.
One great way to build strong relationships with other like minded business owners is to network.
I love networking, as it’s a way to put myself out there on a monthly basis, and to keep in contact with other people.
When I started networking about 10 months ago, I didn’t know that much about it, (apart from taking my business cards and looking presentable).
This is why I wanted to share some crucial tips and tricks to help you with your networking events.
If you have a business but you’re not attending networking events, conferences, or meet ups, then I really urge you do!
These are great for building connections with others, and putting your business in front of people.
For any networking event to be a success, and for you to make the right impression, always be prepared in anyway can.
If you’re new to a certain networking event, I would recommend that you dress smart, so you don’t go in there looking underdressed, which gives the wrong impression of your business.
The second, and maybe the most important, is to take all the relevant marketing materials with you, like business cards and leaflets .etc.
I’ve been to a couple of networking events when I forgot my business cards, and it wasn’t ideal.
People were asking me for my details and business cards, but I couldn’t give them any!
Always be prepared and don’t fall into this trap.
Want To Stand Out? Be Yourself
When you network, you reflect your brand and business.
If you sell too much towards other people, they’ll link this to your business, and a bunch of negative thoughts will appear in their minds.
People see straight through acts, fronts and falsehood, so make sure you’re yourself, and not acting any other way.
If you’re yourself, and not putting on any sort of front, you’ll receive a ton of positive reactions. For example;
- They will see your genuine, and will reflect how you like to do business
- People who are themselves, are trusted by others – which is then reflected in your business too, which is a crucial trait to have
- Others can connect with you more, and a further relationship can develop
Even though it’s crucial for you to be yourself in networking situations, it’s also very important to be as confident as you can.
When we see a crowded room, with lots of people in certain groups, we can instantly get daunted by the prospect of introducing yourself, and don’t worry, I’ve been there!
With confidence, it’s actually beneficial to fake it till you make it. You will sometimes have to force yourself towards some groups, and introduce yourself.
You can fake confidence, but you can’t fake your overall character without being seen as untrustworthy.
It’s Not All About You
Even though networking is essentially there to help you build your business, gain more relationships and increase your brand awareness, networking is not all about you.
When you talk to your friends, family or even your next door neighbour, if the other person constantly talks about themselves, and never asks you anything in return, then you’re going to get bored by the conversation.
Even though you may be sitting there thinking this is common knowledge, it’s so important that you keep a conversation flowing, and not make it all about you.
Here’s a few tips to help you if you’re stuck with someone who talks about their business a lot, or if you think you may be talking too much about your business;
- Ask the other person questions, and be genuinely interested in what the other person has to say
- If you think you’re talking to much about your business, actively say “well that’s enough about me, what about you?”
- If you notice the other person is talking about themselves a hell of a lot, try and take what their saying, and link this to your business in some way. This might then encourage them to talk about you for a change
Saying all of this, all the networking events that I’ve gone to myself, are full with like minded individuals, who are all really nice and friendly to talk to.
If you worry about the people you’re going to meet, don’t let this stop you from attending, as the hosts of the events are always welcoming new members.
The Balance Of Working The Room To Relationship Building
This is one key element that you don’t want to get wrong.
One great thing about networking is your opportunity to connect with a lot of different business owners, and tell them about your business and what you can offer.
It’s also great to build deep relationships with others.
However, it’s this mix which you need to nail. For example;
If you try and talk to everyone in the room, by ‘working the room’, you might be missing out on building good relationships with certain individuals.
On the other hand, you might just talk to one person, and not talk to anyone else, missing out on some potential opportunities.
This is where you need to play it by ear. Are you talking to one person too much? Do you think you can stay and talk to someone for longer?
The whole purpose of networking is to form good relationships with other people, so when you’re next at your networking event, make sure you’re connecting with a variety of people, but keeping the focus on building strong relationships.
Follow Up With A Friendly Email
After I’ve attended a few networking events, I’ve followed this up with a friendly quick email, following the other person on Twitter, and saying how nice it was to meet them.
This is a way for me to further connect with other business owners, and let them witness that I’ve gone that extra mile to increase our relationship.
The other person can sense that you’ve gone to the effort to connect with them, and actually look at their business card and seen what their business is about.
But why is this crucial in business and networking?
A person is more likely going to commission you, hire you, purchase from your business, if their connected with you. The bigger the connection is, the more likely their going to do this. Let me give you an example;
Your brother, sister, mum, best friend, family friend or grandma are more likely going to help you out with your business than someone who knows nothing about you.
It’s because of this close relationship that you have with them, that makes them want to help you out in anyway they can.
Why do they do this?
Because these are the people that have a deep relationship with you, want to help you out, and most importantly, trust you.
You need to take this and apply this to your networking events. The more you put into building a relationship with someone, the more likely their going to refer your business to someone else or buy from you.
Building relationships is crucial to build your business. So, after every event, see if you can further connect with the people who you’ve met.
Even if you’ve already met the person before, it’s sometimes beneficial to contact them after a networking event, to further the relationship.
After you’ve attended the same networking event a few times, you get to see exactly what others offer, how they interact, but most importantly, what they need as well.
Let’s look at my own example;
I’m a Freelance Illustrator, and often attend business networking events in my local area. When I first started attending these events, I was targeting my illustrations in the wrong way, which didn’t appeal to these individuals.
You need to appeal to these people, and have something which they can purchase from you. Are there a lot of business mentors, shop owners or e-commerce individuals at your networking event?
You need to find out what these people need, and actively tell them that you can help them with their struggles.
One great tip is to print of leaflets which showcase your expertise. If you’re a plumber for example, you can show what you can fix within someone else’s business.
Being as specific as possible is the key here, so it can relate to the people who you meet at networking events.
Be A Networking Star!
If you want to drastically improve your business, there’s no better way to do this with networking.
It allows you to connect with brand new people, get your trustful business in front of people, and most importantly, help your overall sales and potential commissions.
Follow these tips to help you with your networking prowess.
Do you network for your business?
Do you have any tips which you could share?
Comments are more than welcome.
Summary Of Points
- Be prepared before any networking event – dress smart, make sure you take your business cards, and relax!
- Make sure your being yourself when networking, and not pretending to be anyone else. However, if you feel nervous, and can fake confidence/li>
- Get that balance of ‘working the room’ and building deep relationships with others, as you don’t want to talk to just one person, but you don’t also want to talk to everyone without getting to the ‘nitty gritty’
- If you feel your talking about your business too much, make sure you ask the other person questions about their business. If it’s the opposite of this, try to link your business to what their talking about
- Follow up any networking event with a friendly email or Tweet, to keep the relationship following, and make the other person sense that you’ve gone out of your way to connect with them again
Many thanks for listening to me today, be sure to comment below if you have any questions that you would like to ask me on this topic, I’ll love to hear from you. You can also check out me on Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus. Thanks again, and have a great day!