You may have heard it said that when it comes to networking the fortune is in the follow-up . . .
But how do I get started?
As human-beings we are social animals yet the majority of people I speak to shy away from networking because they feel intimidated. They feel timid because they don’t know how to “start the conversation,” move it along, gracefully end it or how to convert a lead to a client.
The first two steps to Jumpstart Your Networking are about what NOT to do as well as what to do . . .
- DON’T network to get an immediate client. That is a limited way of thinking. It creates unnecessary pressure, and puts most people off. Go to meet people, build relationships and grow your network. Clients WILL come later, through your follow-up efforts, and personal connection.
- Don’t wait for people to come to you at a networking event. Take the lead and approach them yourself. Start by looking for someone who is standing alone. If you could read their thought bubble it would probably say, “I’m really nervous about being here.” Or, “Gawd, I wish someone would come and talk to me.”
If you can’t find someone standing alone look for a group of three or more. There is less of a chance that they are having an intimate conversation. But alas, you are there to network. So, NETWORK! Jump in somewhere and start. Trust yourself, and move through those scary “newbie” fears.
- Before you go, spend time thinking about how you will introduce yourself. At minimum be prepared to share your name, business name and why you are at the networking event (beyond getting clients). *See sample introduction template below.
- Know your follow-up strategy.
- Look for 1 – 3 people who you feel a connection with and follow-up with them—not to sell, but to get further acquainted—after the event. While you are talking to them, at the event, schedule a one-on-one.
There you have it. 5 Steps to Jump-start Your Business Networking and start the conversation: Go to build relationships. Take the initiative. Have a plan. Know how to introduce yourself, and FOLLOW-UP! This strategy can not only ease the nervousness that often accompanies networking and follow-up, it can also bring you a more worthwhile ROI (Return on your Investment) and grow your community, too.
Sample introduction template: “Hi. My name is ____________. I am the (title)_____________ of (business name) ______________________. I help people __________________________. How did you learn about (name of networking group) _________________________________.