Here our Founder Coach, Speaker and Author Mandie Holgate shares some top tips to get the most out of networking.
“When it comes to networking I’m often asked for help because business owners find themselves spending time and money on networking and yet not getting the results they want.
Personally I find this difficult to get my head around because I rarely come away from a networking event without a new client, lead or business opportunity. But then I do understand the obstacles that stop successful networking and the good news, its pretty easy to fix.
So what are the key skills that lead to networking success?
What habits should you avoid like the plague?
And how can you make networking a powerful tool for business growth?
The first thing I usually say to anyone looking to improve their networking is what do you want from networking?
Too many people think they can walk into that virtual room once and get a new client. The fact is networking is a slow burner, but there are some powerful ways to make it a powerful burner. So for starters if you are going to a networking event, find the event on social media and let everyone know you will attending. A word of warning here this is not your carte blanche opportunity to share links to your website and social media and expect everyone to be wanting to buy from you instantly.
You wouldn’t walk up to a stranger and try to sell them something like a door to door sales man so don’t make the assumption that a networking event allows you to do this.
Networking is always, has always and will always be about building good relationships. And the key to good relationships is consideration and respect. Get interested in other people and be on their agenda. But lets flip this around for a moment and although you are on their agenda you must know prior to the event what your end goal is.
So what is the end goal of networking for your business?
How many networking events will you commit to attend every month? And a top tip here commit to get to the same network a good few times before you decide if its right for you. Try different events at different times of the day to get to meet a diverse range of business. The great news about our events is because they have no membership you are always going to meet someone new. And that’s a great opportunity for your business!
What is your goal at each event?
Is it to speak to 5 business owners. Don’t aim to spam everyone with your business links and special offers.
You must have seen what I call the Jugulars. They sweep into your conversation, manipulate it around to what they do. And then once they know everyone has got what they do, seen a link, they excuse themselves and move on to the next victim…er sorry business owner. In my experience they never send you a nice email saying thanks for your time and it was great to meet you but make the assumption you’d love to be on their mailing list. There folks in that sentence are a good few tips on how not to network and make enemies.
Remember that nice people have a habit of making sales. Why? Because they are genuinely interested in other people and do that really powerful thing called listening. If you really want to power up your results in networking (and marketing and closing the sale!) then listen. Give people the chance to TELL you what they want and need, stop making the assumption that you are telling them what they want to hear. And when someone shares what they need, use their words in your reply to help them feel listened to.
This does 2 things firstly it helps them feel respected (and that is good for relationship building) and 2 it allows you to hear to gain vital clues as to what they business owner is looking for. That enables you to tailor your conversation to be heavy in what they want.
With online networking it’s fine to message people in the chat to keep the conversation going and to learn more (If you can’t listen to 2 people at once, then this is not advisable. You can look distracted and uninterested.)
Even if the event doesn’t have elevator pitches – prepare one anyway. This enables you to focus on what you want to talk about today and prepares you in case the opportunity does come up. People make the mistake of thinking elevator pitches need to be heavy on what you do, they don’t. Talk about what’s in the news, success stories – the good old this was their problem, this is what we did and this is what they get. And if you can include real statistic and real figures then reinforces that you really are exceptional at what you do. If you are lousy at 60 seconds take this course and like many business women you could be selling at the very next networking event you attend. Learn more here.
I could share a billion ideas here but the key to remember at the event is to be genuinely interested in other people. Don’t make the mistake of being the other end of the scale to the Jugular and be an Orbiter. Orbiter’s listen to everyone but never get around to telling people what they want. Or who they would love the chance to speak with.
Getting the balance right is key but people know you are there to do business so don’t shy away from that and be confident.
The one thing that will power up the result of your networking more than anything is your follow up process. What do you do after the event. And if you answer is “I’m too busy to do anything.” Then don’t network. What’s the point of spending 2 to 3 hours out of your working day networking if you don’t do the most crucial aspects of following up.
Your follow up style needs to reflect your personality and your business ethos. Ask yourself what that looks like.
Do you email them and thank them for their time?
Did you talk about a great website you find useful for business and thus share it with them after the event?
Do you find them on social media?
Connecting with people online enables you to keep in touch between events. That is a great way to get to know them better so that the next time you meet you feel like its not been weeks since you spoke to each other. It’s a great way of naturally getting to know a business and what they are looking to achieve.
The key to a great networker is being all about the giving. We all know the saying Givers gain, and its true. So give, we are not talking freebies and give aways all of the place. We are talking about being a kind genuine business owner looking out for other business owners. This enables people to naturally get to know you, like you and want to work with you. As always say;
“You can’t dictate when someone buys from you but you can have a say in who they chose to buy from.”Mandie Holgate
Remember the average person knows 250 people in person and thousands online! And although many of those first hand may not need or want your products you don’t know who they know within their extensive network. Get yourself known and respected for what you do and your reputation will be a powerful way to network and get your business known and loved. Ready to supply you with a funnel of new leads and sales!