Networking has been around for thousands of years. It may seem like a relatively new tactic, bumping heads with like-minded people, priming potential prospects or whatever way you look at it, it’s been around forever. Most networking opportunities end with an exchange of Business Cards, but that’s only the beginning. It leaves the door open for further discussion.
Trust is the foundation that relationships are built on especially in the business forum. If you don’t have trust, generally speaking, you don’t have a sale. When networking and meeting potential prospects for the very first time, be interested in what they have to say. Don’t focus all your energies on ‘you’ being interesting. You must bide your time if you want to enter the prospects circle of trust. Just like a vampire, they need to be invited in. But when you’re invited in the game changes.
4 Tips to Network like a Pro.
Your undivided attention
Although business card exchange is essential, it works better after a meaningful conversation. It reinforces a new relationship and helps it stand out from the others. As we mentioned before talking about the people you meet is more important than blowing your own trumpet. There’s plenty of time for that later. At networking events, business cards can get lost in the mix of all the noise that’s generated. Make sure yours stands out from the others. Make it memorable, use a graphic designer and a professional print outfit. This is extremely important.
Having a networking strategy is an important weapon in any battle for prospects. Be careful, though, don’t spread yourself too thin on the ground. Identifying people that you can have meaningful conversations with and at the same time build relationships takes time. Aim for connections of value. Try to speak with 3-5 people at length. Get to know them, understand their business and above all don’t forget to leave them with your memorable business card.
The most effective way to enter potential a prospects ‘circle of trust’ is through satisfied customers, clients and contacts already in your own network. Recommendations or referrals are key for business in today’s highly competition business environment. Once an introduction or recommendation is given, this can be considered as an already warm prospect. It is very important at this stage to deliver on promises. As someone else has recommended you, make it your duty to give the new prospect the positive experience they are expecting. If you don’t, you could lose out on two relationships. Be careful.
It is vital once you meet somebody and exchange business cards, to follow-up with them within five days. This can be a simple ‘thank you for the chat’ email or a quick call. Set in your calendar to follow up again within 60 days, to schedule a coffeee or even lunch. Connecting through social media is a great way to keep in the minds of potential prospects. Using Linkedin as a channel to connect is a very powerful means to building the relationship. Sharing their content can help online relationships grow.
It takes time and effort to build relationships through networking. The time you put into developing reliable and trusting relationships will be time well spent. Meeting new people and growing your network will eventually yield great and potential leads for your business. And remember, it all started with a humble business card. The power of print!