Who to network with.
Not every group of people will be right for you. Choose groups where people congregate who share your interests and/or are potential clients. Chambers of Commerce, men’s and women’s organizations, networking groups, special interest groups, and associations are all potential choices.
Networking is not about selling, but rather developing relationships that can lead to sales or referrals. While you might network with people who could become clients, your purpose is not to close a sale. The benefits most important to you should drive your choice of who to network with.
Bring plenty of business cards, but only give them to people who show a real interest in what you do. Brochures or printed postcards can also be effective. Also, craft a short description of what you do — no more than 10 or 15 seconds.
If you are seeking referrals, your best choice for networking will be people who are in regular contact with your target market. Read More On Target Marketing. This usually means they are either in your target market themselves, or they serve it.
Plan your approach.
Dress appropriately and professionally. Establish yourself as a successful person, which you can do by dressing the part. This does not mean that you need to wear expensive clothes, but do wear something a bit on the dressy side and leave the comfortable baggy pants at home. If necessary, get advice from an image consultant.
Before reaching out, determine the primary purpose for your contact. Perhaps you want to enlighten the other person with your business services so they could refer to you in the future. Or you might like to learn what they knows about the industry.
Since networking is intended to benefit reciprocally, think about what you could offer the other person. Could you refer there business occasionally? Or can you provide useful information or ideas? If you're not sure what you could provide, be prepared to ask, "How could I be helpful to you?" Make the offer of how can I help you grow your business.
Setting a One-On-One Date
Place a phone call or send an email, stating the reason for your contact. Suggest that the two of you set up a convenient time to meet in person or by phone.
Follow up if they don't respond.Don't make one attempt and then give up, thinking the other person isn't interested. You may have contacted them at a busy time, they may be having a bad week. Wait a week or two, then try again. Consider calling if you emailed before, or vice versa. If you still don't hear back, wait a month and reach out again. Never make the other person wrong for not replying before.
Meet in person or by phone.
Begin by asking for more details about there business, even if you think you know everything.Listen carefully to their answers, Find points of commonality that you can bring into the conversation. Expressing interest in others will increase their comfort level in talking to you. Then tell them a bit about your own work to provide a context for your request. Next, ask for what you want from the meeting, and at the same time, make a reciprocal offer.
Focus on what you can do for others, not what they can do for you. Perhaps you know someone who could use your prospects services. If you do, make the referral.
Follow up after you meet.
Follow up. If you make a good connection with someone, after the event, send a note saying how much you enjoyed meeting them. If appropriate, send an article or some kind of information that they might find helpful. Do not add them to your mailing list without their permission.
Follow up over time.
If you felt your meeting was productive, stay in touch to keep the relationship alive. Suggest that your new acquaintance subscribe to your newsletter or blog, or connect with you on Facebook or LinkedIn. Reach out personally every three to four months with a note, phone call, forwarded article, or invitation to an event you're attending or hosting. Try to get together in person or by phone at least once per year.
Networking is a process, not a one-off event. Take the time to develop relationships with people who interest you. Be proactive and invite someone to a one-to-one meeting so you can get to know them.
We look forward to seeing your business be successful.