Networking Opens Doors To Infinite Possibilities
As we start 2017, I thought back to what would be my number one tip to building my business. My simple answer is networking. I discovered early on that it was through connecting with people regularly that I built relationships and through those relationships I was offered work.
So read on and learn my top tips to making networking work for you. Next week I’ll share with you, my simple tips to mastering the Art of Small Talk.
Rank rules supreme
When trying to decide who should be introduced to whom, remember that the most important person gets introduced to the other person. If both people are of equal rank, introduce the woman to the man to show courtesy, or simply introduce the first arrival or the person nearest to you. In large groups, people of equal ranking often introduce themselves to each other.
Add some background
If you are hosting an event, include a little background information on each person when you introduce them, especially if they have something in common. This will open up a conversation between those two and leave you free to talk to others.
It’s fine to ask about pronunciation
Many names today are not as simple as Mary, Paul or David. If you have been introduced to someone whose name sounds foreign to you or you missed the pronunciation, it is fine to ask to hear the name again. This is better than mistakenly calling someone by the wrong name, or using the wrong pronunciation.
It’s okay to admit that you cannot remember someone’s name.
Occasionally you will meet someone for the second or third time and have a blank on what their name is. Don’t pretend to remember their name, actually ask them what their name is by saying “My mind just went blank, can you remind me what your name is.” Or else you can say ‘your face is familiar, please remind me what your name is.”
Never point out that someone has forgotten your name.
If there are a few of you together and you are not introduced, it might be that a) the other person has no manners or b) they cannot remember your name. Let’s assume the later. You can extend your arm out to the person you have not met and say “Hi I’m X, I don’t believe we have met, and you are?.” This will release the person, who you expected to introduce you, from their obligations.
Never assume familiarity
Only use first names when you are invited to do so. If you are given a surname only, use it until invited to do otherwise.
Cards are a must…maybe
Always arrive at a network event with your business cards. If you are out of cards, run some basic cards through your printer before you leave for any event. The first two sentences were the original text for this point. I have recently discovered the magic of the phone app for opening conversations and sharing information. I personally use ‘scanbizcards’ (no this is not a paid advertorial I just like it). I scan in someone’s card after an event and have an automatic email I can send them. In some conversations, ifI’mm out of my own cards, I will scan the other person’s card and send a greeting directly from my phone. It gets an Oooh ahh and we can continue chatting about other gadgets we like to use – small talk tip.
It doesn’t have to be fancy
Business cards are an important part of business. At the very least, make sure you include on your card your name and a contact number. In the corporate market, you should also include your email address, a postal address and your business name. Here is where I also like to add keep them simple, Due to the app I use in the above tip, fancy cards can make scanning tricky and the details dont format well.
Keep your cards handy
There is no point in going to a network event in the hope of getting to know others and having your cards tucked away so safely it takes forever to get to them. The inside pocket of your jacket is ideal. For women, if you don’t have an inside pocket it is worth having one put into your jacket.
Separate your cards
When you receive another person’s card it is safest to put it in another pocket or space away from your own cards. It is very embarrassing to go to hand out one of your own cards only to give another person’s, especially if they are competition to the person you are talking to.
Keep it neat
No one wants to receive a nasty, dog-eared card. Your cards are a reflection of you, so keep them neat and clean.
Don’t waste space
You have two sides to your card. The front should have all of your relevant details; the back can be used as well. If you are dealing with international clients who speak another language, put all of your details in their language on the back. Alternatively, if your clients are local, use the back to give an idea about some of the work you do.
By this I don’t mean you to be stingy with your cards, but don’t hand them over just because you can. By all means strike up as many conversations as you can and exchange cards when it seems appropriate, but wait till you have at least had a conversation with someone and seen if there is any purpose in exchanging your cards.
Use it or lose it
Once again, it is not how many cards you have but what you do with them. Practise the act of follow-up and all will be worthwhile.
Depending on how your business operates, it is always nice to send a quick note the following day to the people you met. As this is not done that regularly it will make you stand out from the crowd.
Networking opens doors
Networking is a ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ exercise. Good networkers always do better than people who stay at home or in their offices. It is through networking that you get to form social connections with people you may otherwise never have met.
Be open to opportunities for connection.
I have discovered that often the person I am speaking to is not my ideal client but someone they know is. With this in mind. Be memorable. If you know that you have no business compatibility, find out what they do need help with you. If you can be the catalyst to finding a solution for them, they are more likely to tell others how wonderful you are and guess what, you’ll have work coming from the most unexpected corners.
Lastly, take your time.
Rookie error 101, expecting to get business from your first networking event. I would highly recommend that you choose a few networking channels and stick with them for at least 12 months. People who network regularly and are truly into building relationships are better for your business than the fly by nighters who come and go in the blink of an eye.
Don’t be afraid of networking. Some of my best friendships have developed from networking events and I know my biggest jobs have come from networking connections.
So what have you got to lose? The year is young. Pick a few networks and go and make this your best year yet.
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