Once you get the nerve to actually start networking, that’s when the real fun begins!
First, let me ask: When you first heard the word networking, what did you automatically think? Yes, me too when I first thought of networking long ago – “What can they do for me? How do I get to and impress the right person so I promote my services?” I also felt like it would be a mad dash of meeting people that I had to impress within a few seconds or else and a flurry of activity filled with repeating myself and handing out business cards, practically begging for business.
It’s a pretty common networking mentality so no shame if this was your first thought. The issue is when this “me first” attitude affects your willingness to network properly.
So let’s discuss ways to network properly as a business owner with the idea of serving others first, then moving toward a business relationship later. And the secret is in how you conduct yourself after the initial introduction.
1. Participate Regularly. Once you’re in the group, be active and get involved as much as possible because that’s the fastest way to be remembered! Attend ALL events, not just the ones where the most important decision makers will attend. Sometimes there are regular evening social events, virtual events or social media based online events. Get involved because the more people that know and like you will only mean more business heading your way.
2. It’s About Other People. Be willing to help other members out even if it might not mean business for you. Volunteer your time at one of their events or for a project you find out they are working on. It will be a great way to show them your work ethic, creativity and customer service skills. You never know what may happen – and how many times have really nice things happened for you that you weren’t expecting – all because you chose to help someone with no strings attached? It will work that same way if you make your networking about other people.
3. Don’t Forget to Follow up – Always! Never hand out your business card and leave it at that! Follow up via email and connect through LinkedIn. If their business is a good fit, you could even follow their business social media pages. However you decide, just be sure to follow-up. Remember, we’re trying to grow our business through relationships – and you can’t do that if you don’t have any. So follow up!
Let me know how networking has helped your business in the comments below.
To Your Success!