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Habits of Highly Effective Networking

For most solo professionals, in-person networking is a significant piece of their ongoing marketing strategy.  Getting out and meeting the right people is often the quickest way to enroll new clients into your program and generate additional revenue.

Though networking can open the door to numerous opportunities, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s one of your favorite activities. I know a fair number of entrepreneurs who dread networking and consider it to be a necessary “evil” of running a business.

Whether you LOVE networking or do it out of sheer necessity, I’m confident you want to enjoy the best possible results at every opportunity. Here are some  Smart, Simple Tips on how to use this strategy effectively to connect with your ideal clients and create opportunities to grow your business:

1. “Fish in the Right Pond” – Don’t attend a networking event just for the sake of doing so. To get the most bang for your buck (and use your time efficiently) make sure you are ONLY attending networking events where your target clients and referral partners are hanging out. Remember, to be extremely successful in business you can’t market to any and everyone. You need to focus your attention on providing specific solutions to your ideal clients. Which means you need to do targeted, focused networking. You’ll enjoy yourself much more, have better conversations and create more opportunities when you’re talking to people who “get” what you do and are already looking for your product or services.

2. Get your head right – Networking isn’t about selling yourself or pitching your services. It’s about making connections with people, getting to know them, finding out what they need and creating opportunities. Be clear about your objectives BEFORE you attend the event so that you “show up” as a friendly, gracious and helpful resource. If you are a person who doesn’t LOVE the experience of networking, adjust your mindset. A lack of confidence and a negative attitude are highly unattractive and will repel others from wanting to connect with you. Instead of dreading the experience, look forward to the opportunity to meet other people and educate others about what you do. Set the intention before you head out the door that you’re going to have a GREAT experience and enjoy yourself!

3. Have reasonable expectations – Don’t attend the event desperate to close new business on the spot. If you do, each person you meet will “sense” it on you and will likely be turned off your approach. Instead, focus on having meaningful conversations with the people you meet and getting to know them so you can follow-up as appropriate.

4. Resist the urge to “work the room” – I know you’ve seen this. There’s always a guy someone at networking events running around the room, almost tossing their business card at every person they pass. Don’t be that person. Take your time. Enjoy meeting various individuals. Allow the conversations you start to develop and end naturally. You’ll feel much more relaxed and have a better experience. Plus you’ll create deeper connections with the people you meet and have a much easier time following up with them after the event. It is far better to have 4-5 fabulous conversations than to run around the room passing out your card to everyone in your path.

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Simple Rules Every Networker Should Follow!

Networking has been around for just about as long as business, in various shapes and forms.  It can be an extremely effective, low-cost marketing strategy – when done correctly.  Unfortunately, many people lose out simply because they don’t quite know the game.  Don’t miss a great opportunity to boost your business!  For networking success, always follow these simple and steadfast rules of play:

  1. Be genuine & authentic.  People like to do business with people they like, and nobody likes a pretender.  Savvy networkers can spot a false façade a mile away, and they instinctually steer clear.  No matter how great you are, no matter how fantastic your product is, it won’t matter one bit if others feel you may have something to hide.  Always stay true to your personality, represent your business honestly, and build genuine relationships with your fellow networkers.  Authenticity will set you apart and leave a positive impression, which will encourage people to do business with you… instead of your competition.
  2. Listen more than you talk. Have you ever met someone new – at a party, in the grocery store, standing in line for the movies – and they did nothing but talk nonstop about themselves?  Did it make you want to run in the other direction?  When networking, your mission should not be to prove how cool you and your business are.  It should be to find out as much as possible about the person to whom you are speaking, finding a way to make a connection so a relationship can be built.  The next time you meet up, whether it’s at another networking function or in person one-on-one, you should at least have some talking points so you can pick the conversation back up and continue building the relationship.  Good networking relationships lead to trust, and trust leads to business.
  3. Bring only five business cards to any function.  There are many experts who will disagree with this way of thinking.  However, if you have ever attended a typical networking event and walked away with a stack of cards, you’ll recognize some truth in what I’m saying here.  Thinking of that stack of cards, how many of the people behind the cards can you actually remember?  How many did you follow up with? How many did you actually do business with?  For most people, that number is pretty low.  Remember – networking is about building relationships.  Reserve your cards for those people with whom you truly connected and plan on following up with.  It’s always more important to make solid connections with a few, than meaningless connections with many.
  4. Don’t be that guy. You know the one.  He goes around to every person in the room, intrusively of course, and shoves his business card in your hand.  He interrupts your current conversation to tell you who he is and why you need to know him.  And then, before you even have a chance to respond, off he goes to the next unsuspecting victim.  Sound familiar?  Don’t be that guy.
  5. Get on a first-name basis with the event organizer.  I cannot stress this enough: the most important person in the room is the one who brought you all together.  Seek out the organizer (respectfully), strike up a conversation, and make the connection.  A good leader will point you in the direction of some key people he or she feels you should know, and a really good leader will make the introductions personally.  Once he or she knows who you are, what you do, and who you are interested in connecting with, you may even get some great referrals and post-event introductions.  Want to know the best way to cement the relationship?  Reciprocate.Encourage people you know to attend the leader’s events, introduce him or her to potential clients and alliances, and do whatever you can to help support his or her efforts.  A good rule to follow with any networking connection.

The bottom line is simple: Networking is a great tool, and can make a huge impact on your business.  It’s up to you whether that impact is a positive one.

Five Ways to Jump Start Your Business

Create a brand. Spend a little money to create a professional logo, business card and stationery.  Present  a professional image.

Ramp up Online. Make creating a Web site a top priority. A Web site is today’s calling card. You  really shouldn’t do without one. Give people a place to go to learn about your business.

Make Your First Sale. This is key. Get that first sale even if it’s friends or family at a discounted  rate. This counts as getting started, so go for it.

Promote Testimonials. Get testimonials from your first sales. Start building credibility for your  business from day one.

Build Buzz. Be creative. Look for a special promotion, big event, email campaign or something out of the norm for your business to get people talking about you, your product or service.