What’s the Point of Networking?
If you’re new to networking you could make the mistake of thinking that it’s all about who can collect and dish out the most business cards. Or how much you can ‘sell’ at each meeting or how many new clients you can win.
Obviously you want to grow your list and build your contacts, and ultimately, the point of networking is to win more business. BUT. It’s your attitude to the networking process that can mean the difference between making great business connections or wasting your time! Our W.M.B. of networking will advise you on the best networking attitude…
Words are important – what you say and how you say it will impact upon how others see you and whether they want to buy in to you and your business. It is a good idea to rehearse a polished and concise business introduction – a couple of sentences describing who you are, what you / your business does and how you help your clients. This introduction or ‘elevator pitch’ should last between 30 seconds and 1 minute, and should leave people wanting to know more. You don’t need to go into too much detail at this point – the whole room doesn’t need to know your shoe size! But make it tantalising so that people will want to ask you questions later.
However, all too often you can be so caught up in what you’re trying to say and how you’re saying it, that you can forget to effectively COMMUNICATE (which includes LISTENING) with the other people in the room. Remember that everybody is in the same position, and are all sharing their stories with you too. Even if you have no need for the pension services the person is offering, make sure that you listen attentively, don’t look bored, and SMILE!
Seasoned networkers will tell you that it’s not about how many email addresses you collect, but about how many meaningful connections you make. In the last point we said that you must always be attentive and listen to the other people in the room, even if you know that you will never require their services or they yours. The key to networking is how you can help each other.
Think about how many people you know / meet / do business with in day to day life – one day, one of your acquaintances might need pension advice, and you can recommend that nice lady you met at networking last month. So you send business their way. Imagine that you can help many of your other networking colleagues like this. And then one day, maybe they will be able to help you, too.
If you can build friendships, be personable and not always be in ‘selling mode’ you’ll soon build a solid framework of connections that you really want to recommend to others, and they’ll be trying to help you too.
It could have been easy to dismiss the pension services lady and move on quickly, but remember that this lady will have access a lot of different contacts from all walks of life that she can send your way. So remember, networking isn’t about who is in the room, but who they know that counts!
Find a good group and stick with it. Over time it will grow with your new friendships and you will find that you can surround yourself with many like-minded people who will not only help your business but also give you important support both in terms of business advice but also your health and wellbeing. We all have difficult times or become stuck in some way, and this is when your support group can rally round to help. Remember that you shouldn’t be afraid to give a bit of free advice or offer your help if somebody needs it – this generosity will go a long way because the person you’ve helped won’t forget it and they’ll tell others about you, but also it’s a great opportunity for you to showcase your valuable skills, knowledge and business personality!
Each networking group you encounter will have a slightly different atmosphere, and follow a different timetable, but essentially it’s all about forging those strong relationships with like-minded people.
So good luck!
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