How to network effectively…

Networking is probably the most cost effective and strategic marketing method you can use to build your business or practice, particularly if you do business in your local area.

Many business owners say that they don’t like to network, or they have found it to be ineffective; this usually stems from not knowing how to do it correctly or because of unrealistic expectations in achieving instant results.

Even if you are not a ‘people person’, you can gain real value from networking if you follow certain guidelines.

Here are a few tips to ensure networking success:

Venue – not every group of people will be right for you. Choose groups where people meet who share you interests and/ or are potential clients. Chambers of Commerce, men and women’s organisations, networking groups and special interest groups are all potential choices.

Develop a relationship – Networking isn’t about selling, which is a common misconception. The purpose of networking is to develop relationships that can lead to sales and referrals. He idea is to get to know people and allow them to get to know you and your business. People often approach networking with the hope of making a sale or getting a client after one visit to an appropriate group. People do business with those they know and trust and it can take time to build up that knowledge and trust. In approaching a networking event without any expectation of getting new business, approach it with the mindset of meeting new people, taking the time to get to know them and understanding and cultivating relationships with them.

Delegates Networking At Conference Drinks Reception
Portrait of beautiful business woman in red dress

Dress appropriately and professionally – Sometimes you have the fake it to make it. You’ve heard the expression ‘dress the part’, well this is exactly what you should do when networking. This isn’t to say you need to spend a fortune on expensive clothing, but do wear something a bit on the dressy side.

Be prepared – Bring plenty of business cards, but only give them to people who show a real interest in what you do.

Ask questions and listen – You don’t have to talk a lot about what you do in order to find potential customers. Ask people about them and their business and listen carefully to their answers. Find points of commonality, people love to feel valued and heard and this in turn is a great foundation for future professional relationships.

Sit with people you don’t know – Going to events and knowing people offers a great sense of security but growth is found in making yourself a little uncomfortable. In reaching out and ultimately putting yourself ‘out there’, you give yourself an opportunity to form new professional relationships that perhaps wouldn’t have manifested otherwise.

Meeting Table Networking Sharing Concept
Business person talking on the phone

Give to get – Focus on what you can do for someone else, not what they can do for you. Maybe you know someone who could use your prospects services, if you do, make the referral for others too.

Follow up – If you make a good connection with someone, after the event, send a note or email saying how much you enjoyed meeting them. If appropriate, forward on some relevant information that perhaps you discussed, or that they may find of interest.

Networking is a process; take time to develop and build relationships with people who interest you. Be proactive and invite some people to one-to-one meetings and get to know them further.

Remember that the majority of business owners are seeking these connections too..

Sitting in the circle while business meeting

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