Building Networking Skills
One of the best ways to find new potential clients’ is by networking. For the shy or inexperienced, this really can be really daunting. However, networking in business is also a social and fun way of meeting contacts. All you need to do is practice your networking skills beforehand and you’ll enjoy it.
Here are some helpful tips for developing your networking skills.
1) Find a networking group to attend. To find networking events in your area try findnetworkingevents.com and also look on your local council’s website: that’s where I found the events’ I’ve attend.
2) Develop a 30-second “elevator speech” – a concise statement about who you are, what you are looking for, and what makes you unique. Have it ready and use it at every opportunity. Memorise it verbatim ~ without sounding like a robot.
[bctt tweet=”Design a business card and carry it with you at all times”].
3) Companies like Vista Print and Moo www.vistaprint.com or www.Moo.com provide business cards for discounted prices or even for free, keep your eyes peeled for offers. The card should include all of your contact information, job title or objective, and even some highlights from your “elevator speech.”
4) Be prepared. Networking events may include any meeting or forum held by professional associations, user groups, civic organisations, or social groups. When attending an event, try to obtain a list of attendees in advance or just before you walk in the door.
Decide before you enter whom you want to meet; a reasonable goal might be five people. Dress appropriately (usually business casual) and arrive early. Have pens and business cards ready. Ask others for their cards and follow up with a handwritten note. To overcome shyness, memorise a list of questions in advance.
The next tip is an obvious one, but when you’re nervous about walking in to a room full of strangers’ nerves do strange things to you. Your palms get sweaty and you can even forget your own name, so just remember…
5) Practice good manners. When meeting a contact at an event or elsewhere, always say please and thank you, use the person’s name, make eye contact, and when talking to the person again, mention something they said in the first encounter.
6) Remember that networking is a two-way street. Maintain a mind-set of being a resource to others, and offer advice whenever you can. This will not only build your network but also boost your confidence; everybody feels good and useful when they can help someone else.
7) Always maintain a networking frame of mind. Everywhere you go, everyone you meet could present a networking opportunity. Always have your card and your 30-second elevator speech ready, and take every chance you get to let people know who you are and why you’re special.
Last year I met a potential client in a long Supermarket queue. We were stood at the check-out for what felt like hours; out of the blue started chatting about Christmas preparations and how we both had to get back to work. Two weeks later she contacted me after I gave her my business card.
8) Networking events aren’t just about selling. So don’t walk into the event with your sell, sell at all cost head on. Networking is about meeting likeminded people for advice and support, especially if like me you work in a virtual world. Where you can go for days without speaking to another person. Go along with it in your head that you’re going to go to meet contacts, not clients.
Above and beyond anything else enjoy your event. Look on it as just another form of marketing your business. If you attend an event and you’re not comfortable then don’t return and instead look for another one. Look on it as a way of combining social pleasure with business. Meeting new like-minded friends within the business community.