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5 tips for successful Business Networking

Do you want or need to grow your business?

Whether you are looking for additional business partners, suppliers or clients/customers, you are looking for people, not organizations.  The reason is, organizations are run by people.

This article offers you 5 tips on how to be truly successful in your business networking endeavors.

A fundamental rule of business (evolved) is as follows:

People do business with people they know, like, trust and value.
 

Let’s examine what they really means…

To fully understand this quote would take another quite long article, but we’ll try to explain it much more succinctly.

In a nutshell; honesty and likeability are important, but if people don’t see you as valuable, they will never do business with you.

If you don’t come across as professional, knowledgeable, and credible with the right skill set to get the job done, you will never be as influential and successful as you would like to be.

Building your network means people need to know you, like you, trust you and value you, for anything much more than buying a pack of gum!

The first step towards building a network of people who know, like, trust and value you – is to meet more people.

Many business professionals find that step the hardest part.   Sure, you go to networking events – you invest time and money in your networking opportunities, but so often you find yourself networking in the same group of people – yes, they’re the people you know, like, trust and value – but they’re the same people event after event.

Ask yourself honestly – when you go to a networking event, do you gravitate to people you know?  We all do.  How often do you venture out to find new people?  It’s tough and that’s where Speed Networking comes in.

Speed Networking will expand your network without you even having to try.  Meeting new people is built into our system.  Just show up and we’ll expand your network to new people – we guarantee it!

Back to our top-tips though…

If you want to become one of the persons that people love doing business with, you need to network both correctly and efficiently.

The very worst business networking mistake is to begin your networking at the point where you really need a network. If you left it until that point, sorry, but it’s already too late.

Your primary business networking goal is to become a magnet, which attracts people and resources: ideas, opportunities, information and ultimately, money. What does it take to become a magnet? Invest your time and energy to develop a wide, diverse and ultimately, very strong network of contacts.

Here are our 5 tips for successful business networking:

  1. Set your business networking goals ahead of time

Setting effective business networking goals is essential if you are to get full value for your time and money from your business networking activities. What do you want to achieve by attending a particular event? Here are a few goals: talk specifically to a person; find people that can introduce you to a particular organization, find a network influencer (more on this later), find a new particular type of business which provides you leads already etc.

  1. Research event attendees before the event where possible

Look them up and check their social media profiles. Find out what they are interested in whether it’s professionally or personally: passions, hobbies, how they like spending their time. Read their blog posts and learn about their challenges and goals. Find what you have in common with them or how you can help them reach their goals.

If your networking event uses social media, you can often see attendees – scan that list for people you really want to connect with.  During speed networking you may end up at the same table as these people, but you may not.  Use the open networking section of the event to make a point of connecting with that person or group of people.

  1. 60 seconds presentation

Who are you and what is your business? What do you love about your job? We know you are passionate about your business and you could talk about it for hours, but can you do it in 60 seconds? Make your presentation short and sweet: be concise, to the point.  Maybe you can find a detail about yourself that will help the other person remember you.

Passion is important – but so is your “ask” – know what you want to close your elevator speed with, something short and memorable that leaves people understanding what a good lead for you is.

  1. Listen and ask open-ended questions

Use the details you found online with the details shared during your initial meeting with a person’s career or business to start the conversation. Ask open-ended questions and be genuinely interested in the person you are talking to. Remember: people will forget your name, but will never forget how you made them feel.

A mini point during speed networking is to take notes – either on the back of someone’s card, or on a notepad. After a speed networking event, you may feel like you’ve been drinking from a fire hose – you will meet a lot of people and a short note about the person, their company or the connection you made could be invaluable to your follow up.

  1. Follow-up within 48 hours (sooner is better)

Don’t let your hard work of networking go to waste: follow-up! Connect with them on LinkedIn or other social media platforms. Ask them to join you for coffee after work and continue the conversation. Build a relationship by being authentic and a valuable source of information.

Speed Networking is the catalyst to meeting new people – you’ll likely want to set up  a follow-up to your initial meeting with another meeting to get to know that person better.  A “buddy meeting” as we call them.  Find something you both enjoy, like coffee, breakfast or a beer – make that meeting and learn more about that person, their motivation, their business and their goals.

Conclusions:

  • Build your professional network before you need one;
  • Networking is only effective when it is mutually beneficial;
  • Successful business networking is about what you can do for them;
  • Offer advice and helpful insights;
  • Spend time and effort to build a authentic relationships;
  • Networking is not about selling!
  • Your initial meeting is just the start;
  • Networking is a full-time activity no matter your business field.

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