Friday, April 9, 2010

Things I Have Learnt About Networking That Increased My Business

When you are an employee you don't usually have to network to get new business in, but when you are self employed or have your own business, networking can boost your business.

This does not always happen, I have been networking for years and have seen people start new businesses come to networking events and leave disappointed, after a few months you never see them again.

It was not that their business was not something that people would not find useful, just how they networked.

1. Don't sell when you meet people. Have you met someone and as soon as they know your name they start telling you about their product or service? You get turned off by it so the people you talk with will get turned off. The first time you meet someone tell them what you do but don't tell them about your services or products.

2. Listen more then you talk, find out about the person you are talking to. Something that will allow you to connect with the person, something you have in common.

3. Make your elevator pitch or 1 minute about everyone else. This is a difficult one, instead of saying what you do, for example I'm a Business Software Trainer, say what other people get from you. When I stand up to do my 1 minute at events I tell people I help people spend less time doing admin on the computer.

I actually have questions I ask and allow people to answer then come out with the phrase. If you are a photographer specialising in portraits you can say something like You make people and families look their best.

This is something that you need to work on, what you say should prompt people to ask more about your business not answer all their questions. Start with what your product or service ultimately does for your clients.

4. Don't be late. If you are the last to arrive there is a chance that everyone has found groups or if it is a structured event you may have missed the general networking part. People who are always late do get a bad reputation.

One networking event I used to attend has a 1 minute for each person at the beginning to tell everyone who they are and if they are looking for something in particular, then a brief talk by someone then you can stay to talk with people.

A particular person who attends is always late, after the 1 minutes have started, she says her 1 minute, usually taking 2, and at the end has to rush off back to the office. Would you do business with them?

5. Don't spend the whole event with one person. This one is very difficult if you are shy in groups. If there are refreshments grab a drink and while you sip slowly look around the room. You will notice some groups of people will only look at each other but other groups will be looking around the room as well, they are the ones that will welcome new people.

Walk up slowly, smile and say hello. If there are no open groups wait for a few more people to arrive, most of them will be looking for groups to join. If you need to set yourself a general time limit, this can be a set number of minutes, like 10 minutes or to find 2 new things about each person in the group. Then you can excuse yourself to get another drink or that you have just seen someone you would like to talk with.

6. This one is the one I think is most important, always have an agenda, or what I like to call a plan of action. If you are new to a group the plan of action could be as simple as meeting 3 new people.

That is usually my goal for new or large groups. For events that are more formal I give a generic what I do until I get to know the group, when I learn about what they need the most I then change my talk.

A few months ago I talked about free newsletter software, to another group the benefits of organising contacts. By finding out what the people need that you can supply you are showing that you listen and have something useful to offer. Also a plan, like meeting 3 new people, will ensure you don't spend the entire event with the same people and give you a purpose.

By doing all these things I have found that people are friendly at events and welcome you into more. The customers you do get become advocates who tell people about you rather then you having to tell everyone what you do. Give yourself 6 months before you get business, then you can work on your 1 minute/elevator pitch and meet people who may be able to help you with it as well.

By : Katherine_M_Davison

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