Anyone who has their own business understands the importance of networking. In a real sense, it’s through networking that friendships are formed, deals are made, and further opportunities are opened. Without networking, any business owner will quickly find themselves climbing a steep hill. That’s why effective networking is essential to business success.
With any type of business networking, you’ll find hundreds of books telling you what you should do and not do. The decision to follow through on the advice of those who have found success through networking is dependent upon you. Let’s face it: No one can force you to network. No one can force you to expand your business. And no one can force you to do something you don’t want to do. However, if you have the desire for success and growth, you’ll do what’s necessary to better yourself and your business.
Being an advocate for networking on a regular basis, I’ve been able to generate business without doing any cold-calling. In addition to this, my success in networking has enabled me to help other businesses grow because of the connections I’ve made and continue to make at events. As I tell my clients, it’s all about building relationships.
Through my experience with business networking, I’ve learned the following that I would like to share with you:
- Have business cards that define you and your business.What I mean by this is that your business card should stand out with your picture, name, title, company name, what your company does, phone number, and email address. [Note: Use good quality paper – not flimsy paper].
- Have a business email address. People do business with people who have business email addresses, not Gmail, Yahoo, or AOL accounts.
- Get to know the person not just their business. Ask them something about their family or hobbies. Fellow networkers people ‘do business with people they like, know, and trust.’
- Approach every networking event with the intent of learning and meeting new people.
- Communicate what your business does to solve problems. You’re not networking to sell; you’re simply there to inform.
- Look the person in the eye while talking.
- Don’t have any drink in your hand while networking. Think about it for a moment. If you have a drink in your hand (whatever the drink is), you only have one hand to get your business card and the same hand will have to get their business card. Doesn’t look very professional.
- Don’t shove a person’s business card in your pocket after you receive it. Look at it and find a way to ask questions.
- Let the person know it was great speaking with them and ask for permission to continue the conversation on another day. This shows the other person you are interested in them. [Follow up].
Bonus: Dress appropriately. First impressions mean a lot.
Serious business owners aren’t afraid to talk. Why? Because they’re passionate about their business. Any business owner who isn’t passionate about their business should reexamine why they started the business. In addition to this, they will need to look in the mirror to uncover what their fears are and address it head-on.
Dr. Sinclair N. Grey III is a speaker, author of The ABC’s of Making Business Networking Work For You, and a success coach. You can reach him on Twitter @drsinclairgrey or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org