When you think about networking, the heavy exchange of business cards might come to mind, but there’s so much more to it than that. Being effective at networking is crucial to your business success. Regardless of what product or service you provide, you’ll need to sell yourself first.
Building trust relationships with strangers is an important skill to develop. When you meet potential clients, first seek to be more interested than interesting. If you figure out how to be helpful to a new contact — people will help you and your business grow. In the digital age it’s easier than ever to stay connected to new people. You just need to know how to get the most of our your networking.
How to Become a Better Networker
1. Be Interested
Networking with someone new is much more than just handing out your business card and moving on to the next person. You need to take a moment more to get to know them a little better and let them get to know you, too. Talk about them first, then if asked discuss what your business does and how your solve problems. Business cards get lost and mixed together, but first impressions last a lifetime. Get them something to remember you with.
2. Prioritize at Your Events
Only focus on making five key contacts at any networking event. While you might want to meet everyone there, but you won’t have the time to maintain all of that communication. You need to move through the room, and meet some great people and call it a night. You should have a target list, but don’t worry about who is likeliest to call you for your product, service just focus on making new friends. You never know who they could refer you too.
3. Ask for Recommendations
Ask for a warm introductions from satisfied customers, current clients, personal friends and mentors. They can be your best sources for recommendations. Ask this group of people to pass your name and information along should they find someone who may benefit from your help. Just remember that once a friend-of-a-friend gets in touch with you, be sure to give your new prospect the positive experience he or she is expecting, otherwise you could lose two relationships.
To make networking work, you have to keep in touch with people. No one likes to only be contacted when something is needed of them. If you are professionally networking you need to cultivate your new contact to build trust.
Once you meet someone, you should follow within five days. Then they should here from you again within 60 days to schedule a follow-up lunch or coffee. To keep yourself top of mine you can It’s a good idea to connect on LinkedIn Twitter or Instagram to keep yourself in their sights. Even if you don’t speak often sharing their content online can build relationships. If you neglect new contacts your networking efforts will be in vain.
It can take a while to build up a solid, reliable network , but don’t get discouraged. Meeting new people and building your network will become second nature to you. And with a little patience, you will create a lead engine for your business.
Republished by permission. Original here.