Networking does not just mean attending business breakfast meetings and handing out business cards, although those meetings are effective too.
Networking is a powerful way of marketing your business because it’s based on building relationships with people. When people know, like and trust you, they’ll be more likely to use your products and services. Plus they’ll happily refer their friends and relatives to you (of course it helps if you offer high quality service).
This word of mouth aspect of networking makes it very cost-effective as a marketing strategy.
So how can you become a natural networker? Here are a few suggestions.
a) Attend as many social events as you can. They don’t have to be strictly business events either. Even your child’s Parent Teachers Association meeting is an event that you can use to your advantage (be creative but not obnoxious).
b) Have a definite aim for attending each one. Your aim could be to meet 3 new people and exchange details, or it could just be to make some new friends. Either way don’t just go there aimlessly. Go with a purpose, and spend your time there achieving that purpose.
c) Be genuinely interested in other people and their businesses or occupations. People love talking about themselves, so get at least 3 people to tell you about themselves.
In most instances, this approach makes the other person ask *you* to then tell him about yourself (what you’ve been itching to do all evening!). Since they’ve talked about themselves, they’ll be more receptive to what you have to say.
d) Ask people how you can help them promote their business or otherwise make their life better. Even if you can’t help them directly, you may know someone who can. If you’re talking to a business owner, ask them to tell you exactly the sort of customer/client they’re looking for. Let them know you’ll be looking out for clients for them.
Again, this usually triggers a reciprocal offer.
e) Ask for their contact details. Get business cards from business owners, and promise to keep in touch (which promise you’d better keep or you’ll look bad:)) Offer your card/details also.
f) When talking about your business, don’t talk much about yourself. Talk more about the benefits of your products/services to others. That tends to get people interested in what you’re saying, as they’ll be thinking of anyone they know who might benefit from your offer.
The trick about being comfortable in a social (read ‘networking’) event is to be genuinely interested in the other person. Ask them about themselves. Focus on others and how you can help them.
That way you’re not self-conscious, but you come across as comfortable, confident and caring. People will want to know more about you and do business with you, all because you showed interest in them first.
Next time you’re in a social gathering, try the above tips and see how easy it is to become a natural networker.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR : Dr Kem Thompson is a Success Coach, Speaker, Author.
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