Don’t be CREEPY! Network Like A Pro In 10 Easy Steps
Does the thought of networking make your stomach turn? Do you ever feel that you don’t get the outcome you desire when you go “network?” YOU ARE NOT ALONE! We are not born with the skills to get out there and network. Even some of the most outgoing people can fall flat on their face without the proper tools in their toolkit. Here are a few tips to help you network like a pro:
- Define WHO your people are: So many people believe that their customers are ANYONE with a pulse. Bad move! When you are so broad in your approach you will never be able to create strong strategy. Consider going in to any networking opportunity thinking about connections in the following areas: referrals (they can use your product), power partners (they have similar customers), resources (they can help make your business even better) and friends (they are like-minded and great people to bounce ideas off of).
- Make a plan: There are hundreds of networking events in your area every month and thousands of people who want to meet you. Many people are scared to death of going to a new setting…totally understandable! Reach out to a friend that you know is a great networker and ask to tag along OR find the person running the event you are attending and ask them who would be good for you to meet. Let someone be your hero. You will quickly feel comfortable and will be a networking guru before you know it!
- Get your game face on: Seriously! This is important…people do business with people they know, like and trust. If you want to build relationships you need to be prepared to speak eloquently about what you do, be positive and energetic.
- Pack your bag: What is in your bag? This may seem like a weird thing to address, but come to the event organized. There is nothing worse than waiting for someone to dig through their purse or wallet to pull out a crumpled business card. What does this say about you?
- Questions are key: Guess what?!? People LOVE to talk about themselves! Come prepared with a handful of questions that start conversations. Not only will you learn about someone new, but you will also quickly see what type of potential relationship you may have with this person.
- Offer up: Be a connector! After you learn about someone’s business offer up a connection you would like to make for them. This could be a potential customer, a power partner or a resource to meet one of the pain points they shared. This will aid in building trust and add a GREAT follow-up opportunity!
- What about me?: Now that you have spent time learning about the other person, HOPEFULLY they ask about you! Be a chameleon. If they spent 2 minutes talking about their business you should offer up the same. Work to passively address areas that may be of interest to them in what you do. There are exceptions to the chameleon rule…if they are long winded, brazen or uninformed…please DON’T copy that!
- Saying goodbye: At the end of the conversation exchange contact information and if appropriate determine IF there is a next step. Not every person you meet will be a match made in heaven. Don’t force it. BUT if they are this is a great time to say…”I LOVE what you do…would you be open to me buying you a cup of coffee so I can learn more.”
- What’s next: So you got their digits…good for you! So many people are business card collectors, but do ABSOLUTELY nothing with them. Create a database of people you meet. Make notes about your conversation and any follow-up items that came out of it. Within a week of meeting the person follow-up with something meaningful such as a connection, invitation for coffee or some follow-up questions about their business to help you better understand what they do! Make sure you stay in touch. You aren’t always going to get a response the first time or build a long lasting relationship after just one meeting. Stick with it!
- Creep factor: Don’t be that person! Follow-up is important, but can absolutely get weird really quick. Make sure you add value to your outreach and have fun while you are doing it! It is OK to let your personality show. If you are not getting a response from someone double check to make sure you have their information correct! If you do…then they may not have felt the same partnership opportunity that you did. That is OK! There are plenty of fish in the sea…go catch one.