Networking helps you make the connections you need to attain your objectives. Most of the networking advice we see for small business owners is similar to Nike’s slogan: Just Do It. It is a creative slogan, yet very unhelpful. In reality, networking allows you to open doors to new opportunities. But how are you supposed to “just do it” effectively? How can you talk about what you do to attract new leads? My following tips will help you turn any social situation into one that will benefit your business.
Remember, as a small business owner you can never just “clock-out” because business is what you do and reflects who you are. It goes with you wherever you go, therefore you should be comfortable to talk about it at any given situation. However, do not try to become a come off trying to sell your product/service at every instance. Find a balance and here is how to do just that:
1. Customize your nametag. When I go out to networking events, I always customize my name tag with little heart stickers that match the cover of my book: Watch Out Ladies. This will give you a chance to stand out amongst all the other boring name tags and carry a little personality to your nametag. In addition, it will help create a buzz because people will want to know why the sticker is there. Then it will allow you to share the story behind it and what the sticker symbolizes, including your own philosophy of business. The next networking event you go to, don’t be plain vanilla. Instead, add a little flavor to your nametag.
2. Learn to be a great conversationalist. Conversations are paramount to networking so make sure you add enough value to them so prospects will want to contact you. Remember it is never about what you say. Rather, it is about listening and sharing personal stories. In addition, ask leading questions (questions that require more than just a “yes” or “no” answer). This will help increase you conversationalist rate , enough so to have them say it was one of the best conversations they had all night. The takeaway from this one is to ask leading questions and listen.
3. Spice up your inspiring story. One of the best things about having your own business is that you will know the story behind it and its founding. This story will talk about what you do and why you do it. If you can do this from a personal perspective and offer an enthralling way to tell it, you can share your story in a way that will allow people to get to know you, instead of coming off like you just pulled a sales stunt.
4. Make sure you follow–up. I have met so many people who go to networking events but never follow up with the important connections they made. This makes going to a networking event completely useless. When you’re at a networking event, it is likely that you are only able to spend minimal time with potential business connections. Change your mind set in a way that when you go to a networking event you only want to connect with the right people for your business. Do not focus on how many people you can reach, but on the quality of people that you can see yourself working with. Then take the time to review conversations you had with them, and follow-up.
5. Spend time with “connectors.” At networking events there are people who help other people with similar backgrounds and interests get connected. These people will come at any moment and say “You do_____? You should connect with ______.” This can be from anyone in any conversation. Connectors will remember you from the conversations you have with them. Remember to let them know enough details about yourself so they can connect you to the right people.
6. Correlate yourself to the event. Every event will have a different setup and intent, anywhere from cocktail hours to dinners. If it is a networking event, it will be okay to talk about your business and what you do as right away as you approach people. However, at personal events you will have to be selective on whom you interact with and then adapt how you will speak about you business and what you do so it is coherent with the situation you are in.
It is the turn of the decade, so here is your opportunity to start fresh and network right using these tactics!Share on Facebook