Networking – it is the lifeblood of every business whether it is a startup or a well-established company. There is, however, an art to it. By changing how you look at networking and your approach to it you could steadily and consistently gain new clients as well as keep your existing clients happy. Here are a few suggestions on how to do just that.
- Time to change your mindset
Networking, believe it or not, is not necessarily about who you need to know and how they can help you. It is essentially about how YOU can help THEM. Yes, it is fantastic when the right type of contact puts in a good word for you or directly does business with you but quality relationships are built when you help other businesses achieve their goals as opposed to talking about yours. In all honesty, the best time to ask for a favour in business is when you have added value to theirs.
- Engage and Stay Engaged with your current network
Yes, networking is powerful tool that can build new relationships – but engaging with your current network can be just as powerful if not more so. Think about it – you already know what they like and dislike, the problems they face, their skillsets and their interests. Think about how much more valuable these relationships would be if you strengthened them by taking action. For example, has someone in your current network just finished an exciting project? Why not share it on your social media channels? Are there 2 or more people in your network that you know would benefit from working together? Why not introduce them? Get the picture?
- Be choosy with your time
It happens to all of us – we get super motivated and go networking mad. We send out hundreds of e-mails, set up social networking accounts and head out every local networking event we can get to. The problem with this approach though, is simple. Spreading yourself that thinly means you cannot give people the attention they deserve.
Instead of trying to omnipresent and all things to all people, why not try be more things to a smaller group of people….the right people. How do you get to your ‘right people.’ Take a step back from the networking chaos and think about where your ‘right people’ hang out. Decide whether you are looking for mentors, prospects or peers and then write down a few simple steps you can take to focus on that area in the coming days and weeks.
- We’re making a list…
Talking to the people around you, giving a few close friends a call…is easy. But if you’re serious about building your network, it’s essential that you take some initiative and develop a list of people you want to contact. Searching your social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook can be a great way of increasing your networking opportunities. Think about your current network – who do your current contacts know that you would like to talk with? While you’re searching, you can compose a list of potential contacts as well as a list of people who could introduce you to them. The rest is easy – simply e-mail a friend to ask for an introduction.
- Are you preventing or promoting?
Your network will either want to hear about your newest promotions or they will want to know how you can help them cut their losses, solve the nagging problems so they are not recurring in nature. If getting a response from your network has been difficult you may find that switching your contact style will get a response. Some people prefer to pursue opportunities while others want to avoid mistakes. Researching your current and potential network partners and finding out whether they respond to promotion or prevention can be the key to breaking the ice with them and starting a business conversation.
We would love to network with YOU and help you grow your business without breaking the bank through our Virtual Office and Call Answering.
We look forward to hearing from you!