Building relationships can be the key to boosting your company’s success to a new level. A strong networking strategy can maximize the value of your relationships and lead to new opportunities.
Networking events are not about going and getting 30 business cards and putting them in your database. You should be strategic about your networking, aim to form lasting relationships, find out how you can help others achieve their goals, don’t just try to make a sale.
Here are some key points to having a successful networking experience:
Form a strategy: Think ahead about your strategy before attending a networking event. If it is group networking, identify your target audience and determine how many people you would like to meet. Find out if there are any attendees you’d like to meet and identify people you know who could make an introduction. Aim to meet one to three people at an event that you will follow up with is a good goal, or possibly more, depending on the event and your personal business goals.
Build relationships: Use the networking event to try to get to know other people and understand if they are a good contact for you. Establish a relationship and ask permission to set up a follow-up appointment. Be sure that you have a strong and succinct USP (unique selling proposition). When someone asks, ‘What do you do?’ keep your answer brief and to the point and then ask them questions. Go to networking events to build relationships not to sell. Find a way to follow up with them, offer a white paper you have written if you think they would be interested.
Listen: One of the most important things you can do while networking is to listen to the other person. “That’s the biggest gift you can give someone, to listen to them. Some people think networking events are sales situations and they really are not, they are about building relationships. If people would see that it’s more about listening to the other person rather than worrying about themselves so much, they would see opportunities to help each other. When you’re networking, sometimes the people you meet become your clients and sometimes they become links to other people. The more you take the time to understand how you can help somebody else, the more they’re going to want to help you as well.
Help Others: Try to be genuinely interested in helping others when attending a networking event this will present more opportunities for you. Try to clear your mind before you go in there and tell yourself that you are there to help other people, not to serve yourself. Everything that happens in your business is related to your mindset. If you go in with the idea that you’re out there to meet people, listen to them, learn about them and figure out whom to follow up with, it will serve you well.