Networking is a true investment in your business. If you are well connected, you will be able to find what you need in 1-2 phone calls. You can save time because you will have the right people and resources at your fingertips when you need them. Clients will come to you effortlessly and you don’t have to work so hard when you are effectively implementing the correct business networking strategies.
But, networking can also waste a lot of time if you aren’t doing it the right way. The goal of business networking is making sure that you are focused on your goal at all times. This isn’t just about meeting cool people. It is strategic.
Also, remember that online networking is not the same as in person networking. A lot of people are hiding behind their computers right now but you will get the best results if you can meet someone face to face. My best friends and mentors have come from networking in person.
The 5 Best Business Networking Strategies
1. Change Your Networking Mindset
This is crucial and where a lot of mistakes are made by new business owners desperate to make some cash.
Instead of thinking, “How can I push my agenda? How can I get or keep attention on myself? What can I say to really impress or manipulate?”
Think instead, “What can I give and offer to others? How can I help others to be successful? How can I start and continue friendly conversations? How can I put others at ease? How can I best express my sincerity and generosity?”
2. Know Your Goals
You must know why you are networking. Do you want more clients, mentors or new friends? Remember to surround yourself with positive influences. Try your hardest to learn from and surround yourself with people who are where you want to be. Up level your circles and gain more access to people who can help you further your success.
Previously, I used business networking to get new clients. That didn’t always work so well. What I do now is focus instead of networking on finding new mentors and partners. When I stay focused on this, the clients thing always happens anyways and I can focus more on helping and surrounding myself with people I admire and motivate me to be better.
An event I am attending in March is surely to get me more knowledge and training. The plus is that I will also meet a ton of new people at the event, too. I know the type of people at the event will be great partners, but I didn’t make the decision to go based on who I would meet. I made the decision based off knowledge I would learn and the motivation I would get at the event.
So try to pick some events that are a mix of your goals including training, new mentors and partners.
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3. Get Started Now
Get out there and go! Find the conferences, business networking events and trade shows that will help you reach your networking goal. But, be realistic with your time. Don’t wear yourself out.
The best thing you can do is to book the event ahead of time. If you wait, you’ll never go. Right now I have a conference booked in March in Arizona that I booked back in September. Be looking 6 months ahead for events and ask other business owners and friends what events they recommend attending.
Once you book it and pay for it, you have to go! But if you don’t pay for it, there are a million excuses not to go, right?
4. Make a Great Impression
Get your business cards ready and get ready to start handing them out. Business cards are not dead. You should always have them on you even if you are at the grocery store. My favorite place to find business cards that stand out is Moo.com.
Then, you’ll want to make sure you look your best so that you can be confident throughout the event. You also will want to save time getting ready in the morning by having your clothes ready to go. Another idea I had for this next event is getting my hair done right before the event, so I don’t have to worry about my hair for a few days since blow-outs usually last that long!
Also, have your elevator pitch down pat and questions ready to go to start asking people.
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5. Follow up
It’s always about the follow-up. This is the difference between meeting your goals with networking and not meeting your goals. Here’s the secret. You have to keep track of who you are networking with and what they are telling you!
I have an excel spreadsheet where I keep track of what advice people tell me when I am out networking, who I have met and when I need to follow-up with them. Create your own follow-up system, but make sure you use it. I actually use this system even when I listen to podcasts from my “online” mentors. If they say something that I need to take action on, I write it down. You can learn a lot from so many experts these days virtually.
If you found a client that is interested in what you do and could be perfect for your services, always email them with something free like a free blog article or PDF. Even better, follow-up with a free session so you can talk with them more and learn more about their frustrations and desires. Then, you can tell them how you can help.
Also, know your process for turning people you meet into customers. You’ll want to implement a sales funnel and make notes on each business card you collect. Know what you are going to do with those cards the minute you get home. Don’t wait.
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