After writing my last blog on networking, I decided that a follow up was in order.
Networking is not about selling your business to the first person you run into. If that’s what you do, just stop. Instead, find out about the other person. What do they do? How can you help them?
The best way to gain someone’s trust is to give away information. Maybe you don’t need the services of his printing company, but so-and-so from place is looking for new business cards.
Set up the referral. “Hey printing dude, I have a friend that does something really cool and needs business cards. Would you mind if I send her your way?” Exchange business cards, small talk and polite goodbyes as you find someone new.
When you have a second, note what you plan to do. Actually SEND the referral. Do them a favor. These favors come back two-fold. Some day, Printing Dude will have a client who needs a new website, or house remodel, or (insert your expertise here) and will recommend you.
Why? Because you sent business his way. And if he did it well, you’ll probably continue to do so. It’s reciprocal.
Remember, try not to sell your business at networking. Instead, pinpoint the people you can help, help them, and they’ll help you!
I’ve spent the last few months going out of my way to get to local Networking Events. To be honest, I have been quite disappointed by most of them.
I’m not sure what I expected from the first one that I went to, but I really didn’t get much out of it (in fact, even the speakers were lame). So I turned to a few books and blogs to find out what I did wrong. Apparently, I’m supposed to command a room upon my entrance. I’m sure I turn a few heads – being a female and wearing ridiculously high heels (see, I have this thing for shoes…). However, the room is usually packed with people deep in conversation.
So the next time I listened in on those conversations. Most of the groups huddled throughout the space already have an established relationship with each other – which begs the questions as to why they even attended the networking event (free breakfast?).
Then it hit me. Sure I can go to every event I can get my hands on. It’s only a few hours and I usually do meet new people (I really have to go out of my way to be VERY social), but networking isn’t about some 2 hour conference or presentation.
Networking is the relationship.
I still go to networking events. I’ve come to quite like the free breakfast (joke). But they are no longer my only chance each month for networking.
I network EVERY DAY. I meet new people every where. The grocery store, the salon, gas station – you name it. Just strike up a conversation. Make a relationship. You’re probably not going to exchange business cards with everyone. But out of the hundreds of people you talk to every week, there’s sure to be at least one or two that can do something for you (or you can do for them). Now that’s what I call networking.
You don’t need to spend time at special events to make connections. Make connections during your normal routine. Most likely, they’re going to be more meaningful.