Just because you network with hundreds of people each week doesn’t mean you’re any good at it.
It comes down to whether you’re doing it correctly.
Are you building trust and creating meaningful relationships, or are you making people uncomfortable each time you open your mouth?
To ensure you’re firmly in the former camp, here are some handy tips:
Are you clear which people you should be networking with?
First thing first, you must have a clear understanding of your own business.
‘Duh’, you may say. But you’d be surprised how many people have only a vague grasp of…
- Their niche market
- Where customers go before and after they come to you
- Which people target the same customer
- Which people solve the same problem as your business
There’s nothing wrong with shooting the breeze with every man and his dog – provided you have the luxury of time. But if time = money, instead focus on building relationships with peeps that stand to bring you benefits.
People think all they have to do is turn up, talk, pocket business card, and hope for the best.
Truth is, it’s not about how many people you know, it’s more about how many people trust you.
Remember: people do business with folks they know, like, and believe in.
Make quick, authentic connections by:
- Having a non-smarmy elevator pitched prepped and ready to go for when someone asks you what you do. Anything more than 50 seconds needs trimming.
- Following your elevator pitch, start asking questions. Make 90% of the conversation about their business; at this point they don’t care about you
- Ask questions they will enjoy answering. If they talk about their achievements, acknowledge them
- Offer referrals when you think they’re relevant. This will quickly establish you as a team player
- Within one to three days of making a new contact, do a meaningful follow up (by phone, email, or postcard) and ask to catch up with them over coffee
Just as there are things you can do to make others trust you, certain behaviour will see you ditched in droves. This includes:
- Talking too much. Probably the most common mistake
- Asking for reward (eg. commission/referral fee) too soon
- Trash-talking competitors
- Attempting to sell or setup an appointment on the first contact
Knowing is not enough; you must act
There’s no excuse for not knowing where to begin. Start networking and strengthening your business education with the following resources:
Like sales, networking takes time to master.
Keep practicing to become a champion networker.
Edwin Lucas is the co-owner of Digital Office Builder, an online business development company in Melbourne. He educates people to save and make money by showing them how to build online businesses that generate revenue on global scale. Follow Edwin Lucas on Twitter.