Ugh. Networking. That is the answer I get when I talk about networking to my clients. I know it is not the favorite thing for most business people to do. In fact they would rather do most anything else than network. Now for me, I simply don’t understand that. I LOVE to network. It is how I built my and my husband’s business. I would research every networking group I could find and just go jump in. Networking always came naturally to me. I am the proverbial “Chatty Cathy” though. I can make friends and jump in anywhere I go without any nervous tension. It just happens to be my strength.
And that my friends, is precisely my point.
You need to choose strategies that appeal to YOU. Part of what I teach in the Book Yourself Solid coaching system is the Seven Core Promotion Strategies. Some of them are mandatory. Networking happens to be one of them. You typically don’t survive without using the mandatory basic strategies for creating awareness of what your business is all about. But how do you get your head around something that you don’t want to do? How do you make it appeal to you?
Most people envision the old-school business mentality of the standard meet and greets or business after hours events where everyone is just showing up for the free alcohol. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? I certainly would’t want to attend that. But let’s start with shifting our perspective on networking. Every time you network, have three things in mind:
- Share Who You Know
- Share What You Know
- Share How You Feel
Share who you know. This means everyone you have ever met. It is as simple as that. During your chatting, really listen to what the people are doing, involved in, trying to accomplish and think about if there is anyone in your circle of influence or database of people that you think they should meet. People will remember you for making the connection.
Share what you know. This means your life experiences, your observations, what you just read on Facebook, tips from email newsletters you subscribe to, etc. Share the knowledge that you think will help them in their agenda.
Share how you feel. Sharing your compassion will always bring you the greatest rewards. Show concern, show empathy. It will not only help you with your bottom line, but also knowing that you are following your heart and your integrity.
All that being said, keep in mind that networking does not just happen in meet and greets. It can be anywhere. I network just about in every situation I am in. The grocery store, the school pick up line when I am getting my kids, chatting with other Moms, talking with the neighbors, all my friends online via Facebook and so on. Of course these are informal. Then there are the more formal situations. I say – choose the ones where people are that can put you in touch with your target market. This can not only be your your local Chamber of Commerce, but also private networking groups, and even trade shows of your target market.
Three things to remember when you network:
- Be prepared. Have your business card with you, research the host, and SMILE!
- Start conversations with questions. This takes the spotlight off of you in the beginning and allows you to learn something about them in the process. People love to talk about themselves.
- KEEP IN TOUCH. Otherwise, this networking thing is a complete waste of time. This is also the number one thing I see so many people do. They make quality connections, get business cards – and then….nothing. Such a shame. Create a system for yourself and stick to it.
So what about you? What are some of your go to networking strategies? What are some of your favorite events to attend? Let me know – I may just show up!