Networking. Love it or not, when done correctly, it’s one of the easiest and fastest ways to attract ideal clients and increase your revenue.
Entrepreneurs who don’t enjoy networking often feel that way because they have convinced themselves that they aren’t good at it. Another common reason for resisting in-person networking is that some haven’t enjoyed the results they expected.
Being effective at networking is certainly an acquirable skill. If it’s not one you currently possess, rest assured you can learn it with ease. If you happen to be great at networking, you’ll be happy to know that with a bit of ongoing effort you’ll continue to connect with ideal prospects and close more business.
So how does one go about using networking opportunities to create opportunities and attract ideal clients? Following are seven simple tips that will put you on the fast track to success:
1. Understand what networking is REALLY all about – My friend Devora Zack, the author of Networking for People Who Hate Networking, defines the activity as “the art of building and maintaining connections for shared positive outcomes. That means that networking is about making connections with the people you meet. It is NOT about selling. Keep this in mind as you head into your next networking opportunity.
2. Don’t network just for the sake of doing so – Have a purpose and a goal! Choose where you spend your networking time wisely. Commit to ONLY attending events where you can connect with large groups of prospective clients or prospective referral partners. If neither of these groups will be in attendance, neither should you. Also, decide – before you even register – what your specific goals are for attending the event and set the intention that you will create the opportunities you are looking for.
3. Research who else is already gathering your ideal clients en-masse – Then, join that organization / association / club and start attending events. Get to know the group leaders and make yourself available as a resource. Volunteering is a great way to meet the members of the group and create visibility for your business. Also, remember to take full advantage of all of the benefits of your investment in the organization or the event. You’ll ONLY get out of it what you put into it!
4. Leverage your natural style when networking – This is an important point that I learned from Devora. Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, you can be successful when networking. You will make it more difficult on yourself if you try to be something or someone you’re not.If you’re an introvert and feel like you have to “work the room,” you’re going to be completely uncomfortable and undermine your efforts to connect with others. If you are an extrovert and attempt to work against your natural tendencies, you may come off as “rehearsed,” which is not so attractive. So, learn to use your natural style to your advantage. Show up as your authentic self and be who you are. You’ll feel much more comfortable and enjoy far better results from your networking efforts.
5. Follow-up on ALL interest within 48 hours – This is imperative, and it’s where so many drop the ball! If you’re not going to follow-up with the folks you meet, there is no point to investing time, energy and money into networking in the first place. 99.9% of the time, turning a networking opportunity into closed business requires a follow-up meeting, phone call or email. If you don’t follow up you are absolutely leaving money on the table and missing out on valuable opportunities.
6. Present yourself as knowledgeable, but be sure to project warmth and sincerity. The right attitude, the right posture, and an engaging smile will go a long way to attracting ideal clients, before you even open your mouth! Your demeanor must be one that is approachable. You may know a lot – but no one likes a ‘know-it-all.’
7. Put your knowledge to work for you by offering to assist others. You will be appreciated for generously sharing what you know and what you do, giving others just one more reason to recommend you to those who are in need of the service your business provides.
The lifeblood of a profitable business is strong, healthy, and mutually beneficial relationships. Successful entrepreneurs know that it takes more than just a handshake and a couple of drinks to build a business. Profitable relationships, formed between like-minded visionaries, are built on trust, and developed over time. So remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint.
Whether it is online or in person, networking is vital to attracting ideal clients and keeping your cash flow consistent. The more successful you are at networking, the more successful you will be in your business.