- Remember that networking is about being genuineand authentic. The ultimate goal is to build solid relationships through trust.
- Ask yourself what your goals are in participating in networking groups or meetings. You should join groups that will help you find what you’re looking for. There are several types of meetings. Be careful when making your selections because some are learning based or volunteer driven as opposed to being focused directly on making business connections.
- Have business cards and/or marketing material on hand. If you’re at a networking meeting, the ultimate goal is to connect with people. Most people aren’t going to remember your name or your company website. Always be in a position to hand out business cards or marketing material. Your material should stand out in a way that encourages the recipient to want to go on your website or call you to learn more.
- Be on TIME. Perception is everything. If you want people to use your services or give you referrals it key to make a good first impression. Being tardy can give others the impression that you are not prepared or that you’re an amateur in the industry.
- Ask open-ended questions during your networking conversations. This means questions that ask who, what, where, when, and how as opposed to those that can be answered with a simple yes or no. This form of questioning opens up the discussion for real communication and it shows that you are interested in what the other party has to say.
- Become a good resource. When others feel that you are knowledgeable in your industry or field, they will come to you for advice and/or a request for services. Don’t you feel more comfortable doing business with someone you feel is an expert in their field?
- Know Your Business. In order to get referrals, you must first have a clear understanding of what you do that you can easily explain to others. You should be able to explain what makes your company different and how it benefits others. Know why they should choose you over the competitor.
- Be able to articulate what you are looking for and how others may help you. If you want help or to build connections, you have to be able to explain what you’re looking for.
- React quickly and professionally to referrals. When people give you referrals, your actions are a reflection on them.
- Don’t be afraid to contact those you meet who may benefit from what you do and vice versa. Express that you enjoyed meeting them, and ask if you could get together and share ideas.
Trena Stubbs is the owner of Apex Virtual Solutions. Key services include website design/maintenance, online marketing, administrative support and customer service support. Visit http://www.apexassisting.com to sign up for our newsletter and receive free valuable small business tips and resources.