A few things to think about, to help you improve your networking.
Before you go to the Meeting.
Just turning up at a networking meeting, hoping for it to result in new business wont work. Like anything you do to promote your business, you need to plan each event you go to.
Have an objective.
Why are you going to this meeting? Are you looking for new clients ? Do you need to find a particular supplier? Do you want to spend time with one of your clients? Is it the presentation thats tempting you ? Some meetings provide a list of attendees. If you can get hold of this list, use it to identify the people you need to speak to at the meeting. Use it to set your objectives so that you can use your time at the meeting wisely.
Your Ideal Client.
If meeting new clients is your objective for a meeting, youll need a clear picture of who you want to work with, this will help you identify these people early on. It also makes it easier for other people to network for you. When someone who knows exactly who you are looking for meets that person, it will be simple for them to refer them to you. "What do you do?" Whenever you go networking, someone will ask, "What do you do?" If you have an answer prepared, youll make a much better impression and get your message across clearly.
When you get to the Meeting.
Now your preparation is done, here are some ideas to help you once you get to a networking meeting.
First Time Nerves.
When you enter an informal networking meeting for the first time, get yourself a drink or some food, but not both, because you will need one hand free to shake hands! Get a list of the attendees before you talk to anyone. Look for the sort of people you want to talk to. If you have gone with a friend, ask them to introduce you to someone.
Dont aim to give your card to everyone in the room. Give it only to people with whom you have established good rapport. Only ask for a card if you have established rapport and you have a genuine need to carry on talking.
Give and Take.
Networking should always be approached with a spirit of generosity. Think about what you can bring to a meeting – not just what you can get out of it. Pay it forward and the reward will come full circle to you.
After the Meeting.
Effective networking doesnt end when you leave the meeting. The final stage to getting the best from your efforts happens when you get back to the office.
Here are tips on what to do with all those contacts you made and the advice and information you received.
Follow Up. When you leave a meeting, you should have a reason to contact some of the people you spoke to. Whatever you said you would do – make sure that you do it. Keeping in touch is the start to building trust with people you meet. When people trust you, they buy from you.
Making Measurements. One of the secrets to good marketing is finding out what works for your business, so that you can do more of it. Measure your efforts. Every few months, review your networking. Look at what is working and do more of it.
Keep it Up.
Now all you need to do is keep going. Theres no point in going to one meeting and then going back to the office and waiting for the phone to ring. Good marketing is about building up lasting relationships with the people you meet over time. Keep going out there and meeting the people you need to help your business thrive.
GOOD LUCK and Enjoy Your Networking!
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