Networking is often overlooked as a promotion tool, which is unfortunate considering it’s one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to place yourself or your business on the map. Networking might not sound fun or exciting, especially if you’re an introvert, but with an effective tool-set and a bit of patience, it may be the best thing that ever happens to your brand.
Key word here is patience. With a plethora of social networking tools, we’re extremely reliant on instant gratification and quick results. Problem is, what’s easier for you is easier for the next person, and the harder route will invariably garner more fruitful results.
The most important thing to remember is that networking events require time. You may enter an event with high hopes of kindling the ideal business relationship, and eventually make an exit with the conclusion it was a major waste of time. Don’t be discouraged, think of it like dating, not everyone is perfect, but when you click with someone the ‘time wasted’ only becomes extra experience under your belt.
Even if you’re not a business owner, you can always network with yourself in mind. You never know who you may run into in your attempts to expand your knowledge in your area of expertise.
7 Tips For Effective Networking
Find the most appropriate place to mingle.
You should surround yourself with people who either are or are somehow connected to your optimal client. It doesn’t matter how many business cards you collect if you and the people you meet simply can’t do business together. While it’s nice to have friends, it is also discouraging to leave professional events without any leads for further business relationships.
Manage your expectations.
This isn’t about making a quick buck or striking up the next big deal in minutes. Networking is a way to build relationships over the long term, fostering loyalty and trust. Focus on what you can give the people you meet, not what you can get in return. Be genuinely interested in what the person you meet has to say. Although you may feel pressure to impress others, it’s best to relax and be yourself.
Dress the part you would like to convey.
Imagine the person you would like to meet. They’re probably confident (not cocky), standing up straight, flashing a smile and have a friendly approachable demeanor. Now be that person for others.
Always bring your business cards with you! Also work on refining your pitch in case you are asked what you do. Try to cover what you do, who your clientele is and what makes your company unique in a brief 20-30 second pitch.
Approach new people at appropriate networking event and ask to join them.
You may find it easier to first find a person who also appears to be alone and approach with an introduction. Brushing up on industry news and latest events helps with the introduction topics. A good tip to keep the conversation going is to ask them to elaborate on a topic they mentioned or on their project.
Know the value of moving on and meeting others.
Don’t spend the entire time with one person. If you find yourself wrapped up in one conversation, politely excuse yourself. There are a myriad of biological reasons that might be calling. Be genuine in your departure.
Followup if you made a positive connection.
Don’t inundate the person with professional requests! This isn’t the time to sell. It’s an opportunity to acknowledge you would like to continue building a relationship. Now is also a time when you can bring social networking into play. Request to connect with them online and follow up in a friendly tone.