Networking - How To Do It
Networking is probably the oldest, easiest, most effective and least expensive way to get more business. It doesn't necessarily involve selling your product or service but it does mean selling yourself. However, that doesn't involve a lot of talking - it does involve a lot of listening.
Networking is about making connections with people and building a network of meaningful relationships.
Having good relationships means - these people will either do business with you and/or recommend you to others. These people are your unpaid sales-force and you've got to ensure that they do a good job.
Here are 9 steps to successful networking:
#1 Be prepared - Particularly if you're attending a formal networking event like the Chamber of Commerce.
#2 Think about whom you'll be meeting - Consider what your opening remarks or questions will be. And think about what you're going to say when they question you.
#3 Make sure you have lots of business cards, a small notebook, and a pen - These should be easily accessible and not involve a rummage through pockets or a bag to find them.
Reminder - NEVER go anywhere without business cards
#4 You don't necessarily need brochures - These can be sent when you follow up later. A networking event is not a place to sell your product or service. (This is not understood by the people who have bored the pants off me over the years)
#5 Think about what you're going to wear - I've seen people rush into a networking event in clothes that look like they've been slept in.
If it means having a change of clothes in the office or going home to freshen up - then do it. Remember, the image you present to other people is the image they'll have of your business.
Men should wear a bright tie (not cheap) and women should wear something bright. Remember, however - business dress, not sexy.
#6 Personal hygiene - Brush your teeth or use a breath freshener. I've met people at networking events whose breath would bring down a rhino at fifty feet. Avoid drinking wine or coffee; they can make your breath sour. Stick to mineral water or a soft drink.
#7 Watch out for the perfume - Both men and women, strong scents can be overpowering.
#8 Name badges - They'll probably hand these out at the event, however consider having your own produced. They're not expensive to produce and it means you can ensure that what's on the badge is what you want. (Conference organisers often get the details wrong on name badges) Pin the badge on your right lapel - it's easier for people to read. The majority of people shake hands with their right hand. As you lean forward to shake hands, it means that the other person can read your badge easier.
#9 Go with a partner - Take a friend or one of your team to a networking event. While you're there, alternately separate and come together. When you see your partner with someone or a group, walk up and let your partner introduce you. Your partner will introduce you using a pre-agreed benefit statement. Something like - "This is my friend Mary Smith - she helps business people find more customers by improving their networking skills." It's then easier for you to make more contacts.
Discover how you can generate more business without having to cold call! Alan Fairweather is the author of "How to get More Sales without Selling". This book is packed with practical things that you can do to get customers to come to you!
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