Networking Effectively

Effective business networking is the bringing together of individuals who, through trust and building relationships, become walking, talking advertisements for each other. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to network.

I have been to several networking events where all I get from people is a 60 second elevator pitch about themselves and their business. Then it's the kind of client they want and what they can sell you. Now, I don't know about you, but I don't go to a networking event to be sold anything. I go to meet people who I can create connections and strategic alliances with.

When hosting our networking events at various locations around Melbourne, there are some fundamental dos and don'ts that we coach the women who attend.

Here are my top 10

1. Keep it real and be genuine in your approach.
Create a networking philosophy that is about what you can do for others as opposed to what they can do for you. I have a strong belief that by serving and supporting others, they will in turn serve and support you.

2. What do you want to achieve from networking?
Answering this will assist you to choose the appropriate networking event. There are various types of networking events that offer specific services. Your main focus might be local connections so choose a local event. You might wish for business training and development so choose a group that provides this.

3. Go to a few networking groups before deciding which one to join.
Attend a couple of groups a few times so you get a feel for who they are and what they can offer you. Attending an event only once is not enough as they might offer something different each month.

4. Volunteer at an event.
This is a great way to increase your visibility in the group. The more you assist, the more people will know who you are.

5. Step out of your comfort zone!
You'd be surprised how many people I come across that expect others to begin the conversation. Let's face it, going to a network event means that you must get out of your comfort zone. A good ice-breaker is ¡¥what would be an ideal lead for you?'

6. Give as much of yourself as you can.
Become known as a powerful resource for others. When you are known as a strong resource, people remember to turn to you for suggestions, ideas, etc. This keeps you visible to them.

7. What do you do?
It is important to be able to articulate what you do clearly, precisely and within 60 seconds. Think about it, if you had to come up with an explanation of what you do would you know how to express it? Spend some time writing it out and rehearsing it so when you are asked you know what to say.

Here is my description:
'The Red Tent Woman' provides personal and professional development for women in the form of seminars, weekends, teleconferencing and networking events. It's for women, by women.

8. Remember people's names.
This is a vital skill that must be learned and practiced in business. There is nothing more appealing then when I've met someone once and they remember my name. If you are challenged with this, here is a simple technique.

« When shaking their hand ask their name
« Say it back to them i.e. Wendy, it's nice to meet you.
« Spell the name visually in your mind
« Say it again three times in your conversation with this person
« If you still need help, associate the persons name with something i.e. Wendy ¡V Windy day

9. Ask the person who their ideal referral would be.
Again, this is about having the intention of helping others first. By finding out who this person needs to be connected with, puts you in a position of service and support. Imagine if they actually followed up a lead and it turned into a client. They would not only remember you, they would tell it to others at the event and they would want to refer clients to you in return. Also make sure you do follow up on leads, otherwise the person who gave the lead to you might not do it again.

10. Follow up your leads.
On your way home from the event, jot some notes on the back of the business cards you collected that will jog your memory of who they are and what you talked about. This will be very helpful when you do your follow up. Always follow up your leads within 48 hours. I find that a simple email acknowledging the connection and a suggestion for a follow up call or coffee is enough. I also have some postcards with my logo, business information and a nice quote that I will mail them. This is usually a very nice touch and gives me the opportunity to put my branding in front of them again.

I trust that you found this article helpful! If you would like to attend one of our many events, pleaswe go to our website or call the office on 9399 2897.

Networking Effectively

By Ludwina Dautovic

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Networking Effectively

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