3 Tips to Implement Now to Improve your Networking

By: Melanie Colusci

 

I have never felt like a networking master, in fact, as a self-proclaimed introvert, I typically would rather be home petting my cats then at a networking event.  But I am a business owner, AND, in order to continue to grow my business, I had to learn (and learn fast) how to “get good” at networking.

 

Here is what I did (and still do today) as well as some suggestions for you:

 

  • Create a Networking Plan

Your networking plan is crucial. Just showing up at an event, having some food, and maybe a couple drinks won’t cut it. This type of networking is not an efficient use of time or money. The first step in creating your networking plan, is to grab your calendar for the next quarter and start adding your networking related activities to it. Here are a few key items to think about in creating your plan:

  • How many networking events will you attend each month?
  • Do the expected attendees line up with your target market?
  • Do you have time blocked out after the networking event to complete your follow ups?
  • What will your follow ups be?
  • If the attendee list is available before the event review it and create a goal for those people you want to talk with.

Networking is important in creating visibility and growing your business. Always have a plan for more effective networking.

 

  • Be Consistent

It’s been my experience that effective networking is also about creating a relationship with the people you meet. Don’t expect to attend one networking event and get 10 new clients or customers as a result. Do expect that over time by consistently attending networking events in your region you will have the opportunity to meet and talk with the same people. As a result, you will create that know, like, and trust relationship.

 

  • Listen and Ask Questions

Have you ever walked away from a conversation thinking “Wow, that was a great conversation!”? Or, have you ever walked away thinking the opposite? Chances are, when you thought the conversation was a great one it was because you had the opportunity to talk about you or your business. And, when we’ve thought conversations weren’t great it was most likely because we couldn’t get a word in at all. So, make sure when you are at a networking event talking with a new person make sure it’s engaging conversation! Ask the new person questions like:

  • What do you do?
  • What business problems does your company solve?
  • How did you get involved in it?
  • How do you like it?
  • What’s your favorite part of the job?
  • What’s the next big thing for you or your company?
  • What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
  • What made you interested in attending this event?

 

Don’t attend networking events with a friend if you know you will only talk with them during the event. Make the first move, set a goal for the number of people you want to talk with during the event ahead of time. It’s critical to incorporate sound networking strategies into your business practices to create visibility for you and your business. Start small and be consistent.


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