1. Positivity – Eight Paths to Effective Networking
The way we behave, the way we come across to others breeds reciprocal and matching behaviour or attitudes, so if we view an event in a negative manner and have a negative attitude, that is what we will receive back from the group. Viewing the experience in a positive way will ensure the right frame of mind to make the most from the opportunity
2. Preparation – Eight Paths to Effective Networking
Preparation is key to making a good impression, prepare for the meeting. If you are attending a network group for the first time, ask about the format, is it formal, informal? Do you have a round of introductions to prepare for? Knowing the format of a networking meeting will also allow you to feel more relaxed. Preparation think about who you are looking to do business with, who you would like introductions to, or if there is anything the group can help with, for instance highlighting a new instruction gives an excellent example of what else you may be looking for. If you do have the opportunity to give a public introduction to yourself, make sure you give the following info, even if everyone in the room already knows you and what you do.
Your name, the business name, describe what you do, try it without industry specific jargon to ensure the entire room fully understands what you do and most importantly describe who you are looking to do business with. Preparation will instil confidence in yourself and your business (confidence in all forms) is a very attractive trait.
3. Consistency – Eight Paths to Effective Networking
If you don’t attend and another member of the group has a referral for you, what are the odds you will still get it? We know work gets in the way of these things, how inconvenient, for those times when you can’t make it send a colleague, if one isn’t available ask a client or another network contact if they would like to stand in for you! Provide them with your introduction. What most often happens is that your chosen substitution will go to the meeting, read out your introduction and then will tell the room how great you are, how good at what you do, how brilliant the company is and is indeed recommending and referring you, adding a great big heap of credibility to everything you have been saying for the past X amount of months!
4. Personality – Eight Paths to Effective Networking
People buy from people, so be yourself. Relax every other person in the room is there for the same reason as you, they want to build relationships, it’s simply getting to know people and allowing them to get to know you.
Can you see how your perceptions of the people around you change as you hear about their life? You are more likely to warm to them if you know a single piece of personal information. I am not suggesting you share your life story, by being yourself people will reciprocate and be more responsive to you.
Never under estimate how important it is to listen. If you listen to what your fellow group members are saying you will find it very easy to refer and recommend. When you have made a recommendation that person will usually go out of their way to return the favour. They will become almost desperate to reciprocate in some fashion. Listen to what they do, and who they do it with you will be surprised how easy it will be to refer and recommend them. This networking marlarky is a two way street, the recommendations need to flow both ways otherwise the whole thing will grind to a halt.
6. Educate – Eight Paths to Effective Networking
It is our job to communicate what we do in a manner that our network can appreciate and understand what we do. One of the best ways to do this is to relate examples of how you usually assist your clients, tell them about the work you have been doing this week, tell them an anecdote, story or testimonial. When you give finer details like this you are painting a mind picture, making what you are saying far more memorable and encouraging your network to seek similar scenarios on your behalf.
7. Specifics – Eight Paths to Effective Networking
When you are talking about who you are looking for with regards to referrals or recommendations be specific. Help us to help you. So for example, how about I ask my network for the details of small to medium business owners, that’s just too generic, no one really jumps into your mind, what if I say I am looking for small to medium business owners that want to grow, well that may or may not help point the spotlight. How about I give more thought to whom I want to target after all my network are not mind readers, let’s really spell it out for them, OK I have decided this month I would like to focus on small to medium sized accountants, they are always focused on helping their clients grow and that is exactly what I want to do too! Not only have I been very specific and asked for a recommendation to an accountant, I have given you a similarity between my business and theirs to enable you to see how we already have things in common. It makes the referral process easier. By being this specific, you may be thinking that your network will discount other industries, that’s not the case at all. In fact you could ask for an accountancy firm and what you will find is someone will say, um I know someone who wants to grow their business, they are bookkeepers, is that OK? And of course it is. Being specific won’t make them discount other options but it will help your network to focus.
8. Go beyond the meeting – Eight Paths to Effective Networking
What happens after a meeting is just as important as what goes on during the networking group. We have some lovely business cards, we have met some new people, reconnected with some people we haven’t seen for a while, what happens next? If you we don’t make the most of the network opportunity outside the meeting too than all we have done is have a nice meal with some nice people and we may or may not accomplish anything further.
Instead, let’s take another look at those we network with, who amongst them have the same target market as us but are not competitors? Do the accountants in the group have clients that fit our target market? How about the solicitors, web designers, marketing people, insurance brokers? Do they have your target market on their books? So why don’t we develop the relationships with these businesses that have the same target market and yet are not competitors. An informal 1:1 with them to develop the relationship, ensuring they know and trust us, ensuring they are educated about our service, making sure we listen to what they educate us about too, perhaps connecting on social media platforms to be supportive of each other and to continue to develop the relationship, when their client needs you, they will be quick to recommend your services.
Without this kind of targeted approach to your networking it can seem a lot more like a muck spreader… something might stick, but you might not want it to!
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