Networking Best Practices
Having the right connections is a big advantage if you want to grow your business. That’s why networking is such a necessary skill.
If you are unsure of where to begin with networking or how to get the best out of it, Go2VA’s list of best practices will set you on the path to networking success!
You never get a second chance to make a first impression. It’s a cliché but it’s true! Networking is a series of first impressions. At events it is best to follow these steps; dress your best, have your elevator pitch prepared (the one where you can explain what you do in a very succinct way).
Don’t dominate—communicate! If you approach your business networking events only as a chance to talk about you and your business, you’ll stop people from engaging with you. Try to limit how much you dominate the conversation and focus on listening, learning and laughing. People love to be listened to and will want to know more about you because of it. By simply listening you may well be able to provide a solution to their problem or challenge.
Be consistent. Marketing is about consistent touches so find business networking you love so that you can attend them consistently and promote that you are there.
Be focused. Thousands of official business networking events take place every day and the internet offers access to many more. The availability of all of these opportunities leads many people to take a random approach to networking - which results in the failure to pay sufficient attention to any one opportunity. Be selective. Identify and then act on the networking events that you believe are the best fit for your business.
Be Memorable. Consider things that will differentiate you from the crowd and increase your chances of success. Make sure you and your business card helps people remember you and what you have to offer.
Network everywhere you go. Without turning yourself into someone who is prepared to collar everyone with your pitch, treat every social event as an opportunity to meet new people. And talk about their challenges in business. You never know where you will meet that next great client, customer or business partner.
Remember that people want to do business with ‘friends’. Try to be the kind of person that people trust to refer to their friends. It might not be the person you meet at a business networking event that will be your next client, but if you make the right impression it might be one of their contacts.
Help others. While your ultimate goal may be to find customers or to grow your business, if you want others to help you then you must be prepared to help them. Offer whatever resources you can - advice, contacts, support, new ideas in order to increase your value to your business-networking group.
Be yourself. The best way to network is to not be conscious of the fact that you are networking. Don't worry too much about the mechanics of networking. Relax, listen and be genuinely excited to meet new people. It will surprise you how much your business networking efforts pay off!