Before you start to network, you must have the right attitude and expectations. Networking events and informal get-togethers are extensions of your business, however, remember that they are only a means to an end.
To be a successful Networker you have to move out of your comfort zone. Make an effort to get out and about, even when you don’t feel like it. Just because you’ve had a bad day is no excuse to cancel going to an event. But make sure to leave the day’s woes behind you in the office.
Always dress for the occasion. Dress the way your customers dress, or at least the way they expect you to dress. Different occasions may expect different dress code.
First impressions are made in a matter of seconds and they last a lifetime. You don’t get a second chance to make that great first impression. So prepare well. The fun tie or scarf given to you for Christmas may not have the impact you want at a business meeting, unless, of course, your business is “Clowning Around”!!
Networking is an ongoing process. Properly handled it’s an excellent means of growing your business. It should run alongside your social media. Your success depends on you following up correctly and constantly keeping in touch with your new friends. Do not get mixed up here. Networking is not about selling your product or service on site; it is about building new relationships and helping others.
What goes around, comes around or as Zig Ziglar says:
“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want”
The very British way of not promoting ourselves gets you nowhere in networking. You have to “blow your own trumpet”. Develop a clear message on what you do and practice it. But, like most thinks in life, there is a skill to this.
At networking events, you have to talk about yourself in an interesting manner. Tell me how you can help me. Now I’m listening… Avoid constantly using the word I, I, I… People will simply switch off. Remember, Networking is a two way stream, so ask the other person how you can help them. Always make a good impression. You must build on and work at relationships.
Be on the lookout for learning opportunities. Keep your ears open to ideas that may help you in your business or in other areas of your life and especially opportunities for your business colleagues. Be polite and courteous; always show you are passionate about what you do and that you are hardworking and successful. Be prepared to do what you say you do.
Understand when networking is appropriate. Social events may be off limits, the primary reason people are there is to have fun, not talk business. Check the rules BEFORE the event! You must respect your network – most people are willing to help, but don’t abuse your position. Never Use and Abuse…
- Good networking takes practice, so practice, practice and practice some more – put yourself into as many networking situations as possible.
- Don’t confuse networking ‘activity’ with networking ‘successes. Make sure you are connecting with new people, not just ‘hanging out’ with existing contacts.
Before an event prepare your Networking Tool Kit:
- (a) Business Cards – lots of them with the correct details
- (b) Your Name Badge – Invest in a proper magnetic badge. Then you can wear it on your best silk shirt or blouse.
- (c) The badge needs your name, company and logo – all spelt correctly in your corporate colours.
- (d) Any Flyers or Brochures you want to distribute. Use Tri-fold brochures, these will slip into an inside pocket or handbag.
- (e) Prepare your Marketing Message (or Personal Presentation).
- (f) Breath freshener
And don’t forget a pen!