4 Ways To Improve Your Business Networking
Hopefully, we all understand the need to network, but wouldn’t you like to do it a little bit better? We’ll start at the assumption that we all network a little. Some of us will network a lot, but we have to remember that we’re not all good at networking. We don’t promise that you’ll be amazingly good after reading this article, but if you apply the principles, we think you’ll get better.
Practice will be your key – more networking and more application of these methods and your networking will be improved.
This article will give you 4 practical ways to be better at business networking
Here are the tips you’ve been looking for:
Ask Better Questions
When you attend a networking event, a chamber of commerce event, a conference, seminar or any other type of event, you’re not there for small talk and to spend your time socializing. You’re there to learn more about the people attending the event and to discover potential business opportunities, or people that can put you in touch with those business opportunities. So first off, take those chit-chat questions you use to break an awkward silence, and get rid of them.
Instead, build a list of questions that help you discover more about the person, and how likely they are to either be your potential customer, or a solid referral source.
We would suggest that you can ask questions to learn more about someone’s hobbies and past-times once you’ve decided that they’re going to a great person for your network. In order to decide that, you need to first know who your customers and referral sources are. Then decide the questions you should ask to find out of this person is a person you need to network more deeply with.
Share a memorable event
When you’re networking the conversation will inevitably turn to you – in some cases that can be sooner, or in others later… but when it does, that person will want to remember you, and that’s done all the more easily if you have a memorable tip that you can share.
Perhaps it was that you have an unusual hobby, or that you did something extraordinary. Maybe it was that you love a certain place or style of food or drink. Those are verging on the mundane, but if you have a story to back up the event or thing about you, all the better to make it more memorable.
Sharing something memorable about you will give them a reason to remember them. Perhaps you wanted them to connect you with another person, or to find a price or information on a service for you – being top of mind with that memorable event makes it easier for you to be remembered and to get that follow-up.
You might also note what you told them in your notes, so you can refer to it when you follow-up.. “Hey, it’s X here, remember me from Speed Networking? I’m the guy who can’t get enough pasta…” or whatever that memorable thing was.
If you’re anything like me, you need aide-memoirs to make sure you get back in touch with someone. If that was writing a note on the back of their business card, and that method works for you, then great. For me it could be an outlook appointment or reminder, so that I get the information that person wanted.
Some of the things you might want to record about someone:
- their spouse or significant other
- children and/or pets
- hobbies and past times
- where you met them
- what you talked about
- what their reason for networking further is – i.e., potential customer or referral source
- did you promise them a follow-up – if so, how and when?
I use small notes on the cards and my iPad to remember that I’m putting their card into my database, and I’m noting some memorable things that they told me – these are great for later so you’ll remember the cool thing they told you in tip #2 – very useful to introduce person X to person Y with something like “Hey Y, I want you to meet X – they have a cool story about cycling and I know you’re a cyclist”. Bing – intro made between two people with a shared interest.
Create a Reason For a Follow Up
Once you’ve got through your first 3 tips, you need to follow up with someone. If this person is either a great prospective customer, or a potential gold mine of referral sources, you need to network more with this person and that starts with a follow up.
Perhaps you follow up with a phone call, an email or a coffee meeting, but follow up you must.
Whatever it your follow up method is, make your appointment and follow through with what you said you were going to do. Perhaps you had to find some product information, or a price. Maybe you had to find an email address to provide them. Get it done and start your next meeting or contact with a quick reminder that you promised them something, and that you’re making that happen. It will build trust and you’ll be on the way to deepening that relationship with this person.
When you get home from your networking events without a list of things to do or no plans for how you’ll reconnect with the people you had conversations with, you’re missing out on building your relationships with the people you just met. Try to have a follow up item for every person you want to network further with.
- ask better questions – you’ll find people you can network better with if you cut out the chit-chat.
- share a memorable event or thing about you – be memorable, so that you can be remembered!
- keep notes – memories are fallible, and you may meet a lot of people at an event!
- create a reason to follow-up and then follow through with follow-up
We hope this list of better networking tips helps, and if it does, share this page, then book your next speed networking event to put the tips into practice!