7 Networking Tips You Need to Grow Your Business
Leverage business and personal connections to build your business by networking. Successful networkers make it a habit to attend events in the community. Their goals are twofold: to meet new people and nurture their existing relationships. Here are seven networking tips we encourage our Business Owners to follow at events and meetings.
1. Show interest in the other person first when engaging in conversation.
Look for ways to bring value to the conversation without a pushy sales agenda. Ask questions about what kind of work they are involved in. Ask how they chose their profession. Ask about hobbies or current events to uncover their personal preferences and find common interests.
Asking questions not only shows interest, it helps you decide how you may be able to bring value to them as a potential customer.
2. Be a good listener.
How long is the average attention span? Only eight seconds! If you find your mind wandering while someone is talking with you, practice your listening skills.
Interestingly, good listeners also tend to be perceived as more interesting and, as such, people want to be around them. Conversely, those who spend all their networking time talking about themselves tend to be seen as boring or self-absorbed. Which would you rather be?
3. Look for opportunities to connect others together at events.
You may start chatting with someone at an event and realize their business wouldn’t be a good fit for yours. Instead of seeing it as wasted time, see it as an opportunity! If you want to receive leads, try giving them.
Offer to make introductions to people you already know who may be mutually beneficial to both parties. If you do this in a thoughtful way, people will want to reciprocate by helping you connect with people they know who might be potential customers.
4. Set personal goals for events you attend.
It can become easy to spend your time at an event only talking to people you already know: your friends. Make it a point to balance your networking between existing relationships and initiating conversations with people you don’t know. This allows you to grow your circle of connections.
Look for opportunities to schedule follow-up conversions with people who want to learn more, but avoid hard selling at networking events.
5. Have your “elevator pitch” rehearsed and ready to share when people ask what you do.
Your elevator pitch is a brief, verbal “commercial” about your business. Remember, no hard selling. You should be able to fit your elevator pitch into casual conversation. Boil it down to as few words as possible. Depending on who you’re talking with, you should prepare to articulate what you do in 10 seconds or less.
If they show interest, you can expand on that 10-second pitch with an expanded 30-second pitch. And if they continue to be interested, prepare to go into more details which may last up to a few minutes. Ultimately, try to reach a point in the conversation where you invite the person to meet after the event for a one-on-one discussion.
6. Improve your conversation skills.
Get comfortable having conversations with people you’ve just met. The best networkers are give-and-take conversationalists. Take turns talking with the other person. Don’t dominate the conversation, but don’t be dominated for too long either.
7. List organizations that are potential networking groups in your community.
Give several a try before deciding which ones are the best fit for your business. You will discover that some events and organizations are more productive for you than others. Building your network is often a trial-and-error process. Don’t give up!
There are some groups that are formed strictly for sharing and generating leads, including LeTip and Business Network International (BNI). Less formal networking also occurs at organizational events such as Chambers of Commerce, Boards of Trade, and business and professional associations.
These networking tips are a great way to raise your profile and build trust with other professionals. You never know who may be interested in helping you or referring new prospects to you. Organizational and business events offer opportunities to interact in person to expand your circle of contacts—your network. Successful networkers often find some of their best clients using this strategy.