Love Or Hate Networking ? – Get The Most From Your Networking Efforts.
Ask any CEO who’s really made it, and they’ll tell you that you can’t have a successful business without networking. Understandably, you might not be too crazy about all the nuances and conventions tied to different social media platforms, or the idea of going to expos and rubbing shoulders with thousands of strangers. Whether you love or hate networking, it’s something you’re going to have to deal with sooner or later. Here are a few valuable pointers for getting the most out of it.
First of all
Be sure to ask easy questions. Like me, you might not be a natural extrovert, or even actively dislike getting into social situations with strangers. This probably has something to do with why I got into blogging! However, if you want to make sure you’re getting the most out of the networking events you attend, you’re going to need to initiate some of the conversations. However, don’t push people away by launching straight into some complex question about a specific niche within your industry. Instead, simply approach a group or a person, and ask “may I join you?” or “what brings you here?” Don’t forget to listen intently to their reply, and gauge how valuable this contact could be to you and your long-term business goals.
Make sure you’re targeting the right groups and events. There’s probably countless networking events tied to your industry that you could attend, but not all of them will have the potential to really go somewhere. Make sure you’re researching each one thoroughly and thinking about the potential value in them. Try to stick to events with businesses that share a target market with you. Yes, many of them will be your competitors, but you’ll stand to learn a lot more about where your marketing should go in the future.
Think of an ideal contact you’d like to meet, or a partnership that could really take your business places. Then, try to pin down an event which will up your chances of meeting that specific someone. You should also try to think outside the box every now and then. If you stick to a narrow scope of networking events, you could end up cheating yourself out of all kinds of opportunities. If you’ve been toying with ideas about making your business greener, for example, consider events like Chile’s Renewable Energy Conference.
Try to forget that sales pitch you’ve been rehearsing in front of a mirror. Networking, especially within events, is all about human relationships. For this reason, you need to make sure you’re keeping all your exchanges light, informal and fun. You don’t need to have a sale on the horizon within the first few minutes of meeting someone. In fact, if you try to shove it down their throat, you could end up chasing away valuable partners, rather than attracting them. The idea is to get the ball rolling. The event you’re at will keep the conversation somewhat centered on your industry. If your businesses can help each other, the topic will come up naturally.