For most small business owners, in-person networking is a significant piece of their ongoing marketing strategy.
Getting out and meeting the right people is often the quickest way to enroll new clients into your practice and generate additional revenue.
Though networking can open the door to numerous opportunities, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s one of your favorite activities. I know a fair number of entrepreneurs who dread networking and consider it to be a necessary “evil” of running a business.
Whether you LOVE networking or do it out of sheer necessity, I’m confident you want to enjoy the best possible results at every opportunity. Following are some of my proven, smart, simple tips on how to use this strategy effectively to connect with your ideal clients and create opportunities to grow your business:
- “Fish where the fish are” – Don’t attend a networking event just for the sake of doing so. To get the most bang for your buck (and use your time efficiently) make sure you are ONLY attending networking events where your ideal clients and referral partners are hanging out. Remember, to be successful in business you can’t market to any and everyone. You need to focus your attention on providing specific solutions to your ideal clients. Which means you need to do targeted, focused networking. You’ll enjoy yourself much more, have better conversations and create more opportunities when you’re talking to people who “get” what you do and are already looking for your services.
- Get your mind right – Networking isn’t about selling yourself or pitching your services. It’s about making connections with people, getting to know them, finding out what they need and creating opportunities. Be clear about your objectives BEFORE you attend the event so that you “show up” as a friendly, gracious and helpful resource. If you are a person who doesn’t LOVE the experience of networking, adjust your mindset. A lack of confidence and a negative attitude are highly unattractive and will repel others from wanting to connect with you. Instead of dreading the experience, look forward to the opportunity to meet other people and educate others about what you do. Set the intention before you head out the door that you’re going to have a GREAT experience and enjoy yourself!
- Have reasonable expectations – Don’t attend the event desperate to close new business on the spot. If you do, each person you meet will “smell” it on you and will likely be turned off your approach. Instead, focus on having meaningful conversations with the people you meet and getting to know them so you can follow-up as appropriate.
- Resist the urge to “work the room” – I know you’ve seen this. There’s always a guy (or a gal) at networking events running around the room, almost tossing their business card at every person they pass. Don’t be that person. Take your time. Enjoy meeting various individuals. Allow the conversations you start to develop and end naturally. You’ll feel much more relaxed and have a better experience. Plus you’ll create deeper connections with the people you meet and have a much easier time following up with them after the event. It is far better to have 4-5 fabulous conversations than to run around the room passing out your card to everyone in your path.
- Plan your follow-up in advance – Good intentions to follow-up aren’t going to get you the results you want, so don’t leave it to chance. Make it easy on yourself and prepare to follow-up BEFORE you go the event. Get clear about what outcomes you’re looking for and what the next step should be. If possible, avoid a game of email tag and schedule a call or a follow-up meeting with your new acquaintance right there on the spot. (I’ve closed tens of thousands of dollars in new business by doing this.) If you really want to be on top of your game, check out my post on “A Simple Follow Up System to Create More Profits In Your Business.”
Effective networking is an art – one that can be learned – and lead to highly profitable results in your business. I’d love to hear from you about your own networking experiences and what’s worked well for your business. Share your thoughts below!