Previously, I spoke about the importance of making a great impact when Networking. Having reviewed the essential points to consider when deciding which Networking Groups to attend, here’s Part 2- How to Network effectively!
You must understand that Networking is not about YOU, nor is it about selling either. It is about meeting people, getting to know them and making connections.
By asking questions, listening to the answers and having conversations, you make meaningful connections and understand how you can benefit the people you speak to, either directly or indirectly through your contacts.
Being able to make quality referrals is an important part of Networking but if you don’t take the time to get to know people, you cannot in all honesty make referrals as I will discuss later.
When talking with people, make the conversation about them and what they do first. If the person you are talking with understands Networking, you will get to talk about your business in due course. If they don’t ask about you and make it all about them, they are either not the right connection for you or they may be new to networking and not know what to do – you can assess which as you chat & turn the conversation if necessary.
Always ask open questions that require more than a Yes or No answer. Leading the conversation helps you to gain knowledge about them and their business and knowledge helps you decide if they could be a connection worth growing.
Building Relationships & Trust
Networking is all about building relationships and trust, which helps to build your personal integrity and your business credibility.
You wouldn’t dream of recommending someone for a job or contract who you had only just met as you don’t know anything about them and the same principle applies in Business Networking. This is why it is so important to attend meetings regularly, so that everyone gets to know each other personally, not just what they do in their business.
It is essential that if you are going to recommend anyone, you must do so in the knowledge that you can trust them to do a great job because if not, it will adversely affect your business and credibility too! You can ONLY TRUST someone if you have taken the time to get to KNOW them.
Breaking into Groups
When you are talking with someone, always have an open stance so that others feel that they can easily join you. By “open stance” I mean that you should always have a space in front of you as you can see in this picture:
The first 2 groups of 2 from the left, are standing side-on to each other and have space in front for others to join in.
The 3rd group are facing each other. This can make others feel that they are not able to join in easily because to outsiders, this will feel like a private conversation.
When you want to join a conversation, just stand slightly to the side and when there is a natural break in speaking, simply & politely ask if you can join in, say thank you and introduce yourself or someone will ask who you are. Just join in with the topic and don’t try to take control. I have never been refused to join a group discussion and have always found people very accommodating so don’t be afraid to do this.
When you start or join a conversation, don’t make the big mistake of talking just about you & your business. You want to be memorable for all the right reasons not forgettable for all the wrong reasons. Aim to be interested in everyone else first – how else will you get to know people?
So, what happens after your Networking Meeting?
What happens with all those business cards you have collected?
Put the details into your contacts/newsletter database, remembering to include any extra details you wrote on the cards. Keep the cards stored so you can pass them on to referrals if needed.
Within 48 hours of the meeting, send a general email to everyone, saying it was great to meet them, introducing a bit more about your business and inviting them to tell you more about them in return. Always tell them that you have added their details to your contact list & they will receive a newsletter from time to time, which of course they can opt out of if they wish. You should also invite them to arrange a 1-2-1 with you for a more in-depth chat.
When you’ve sent this email, you should then arrange any 1-2-1 meetings you agreed and this should be done within 72 hours of the original meeting.
The follow up 1-2-1 is still a fact finding meeting. Although you will each discuss your businesses in more detail, the meeting should still focus on getting to the person too. You may find that something about them that doesn’t sit well with you or vice-versa and consequently you will not want to work with them in the future. Don’t be nasty about it though, there’s no need as both parties will know instantly, do however, resolve to be pleasant with each other when you meet. Negativity in Networking (or anywhere) is not nice and will certainly not be appreciated by others.
As always, I hope you found this useful. Comments are always appreciated.
If you would like any more help on any of the subjects covered in my blogs, or details about my Courses, see my website: www.pppresentations.co.uk or please email me: email@example.com