Effective Networking

Why is Networking So Hard?

Are you satisfied with your networking? We all know that networking is a great way to build more business or help with finding a new job. Most of us would probably admit that we need to network more. Why don’t we network more? Most of us would probably say “not enough time,” but if we’re honest with ourselves it’s probably that we’re a little uncomfortable with networking.

If you believe that networking needs to be a part of your sales strategy to build business or part of your strategy to land a job, then here are some ideas that should help you achieve more success. If you have a plan it will make it much easier to overcome your anxiety about networking and have some fun with it!

Networking Handshake

Planning

Think about who, where, what, how, and when.

  • Who – Who are your clients? Who influences them? Who do you know that knows a lot of your potential prospects?
  • Where -Where can you find them?
  • What – What events will lend themselves to the best opportunity to connect with your target clients or centers of influence? (don’t rule out volunteer or charity events!)
  • How- How often is realistic for you to attend networking events or meetings?
  • When – Pick out events or meetings ahead of time and place them into your calendar at the beginning of each week, month or quarter to ensure that you make the time.

Executing

  • Before you go to any event or meeting, decide what your goals will be. (Number of new contacts, number of business cards you want to give out, certain person you want to meet, what message you want to convey to new contacts, etc.)
  • If possible, go alone. This will force you to get out of your comfort zone and meet new people. Seek a balance between quantity and quality of new contacts.
  • Execute your plan. Introduce yourself to new people. Tell people what you do. Ask them if they might need your services or know of others who they could refer to you.
  • Ask new contacts about themselves and what they do. A great way to get referrals is to give them. (tip: jot the info you learned about them on the back of their card)
  • Offer to reciprocate on referrals or favors. Is there something you can do to help them out? Look for win-win.
  • Smile and enjoy it! By making it fun for yourself, others will get to know the real you and you will be more likely to stick to your networking plan in the future.

Reviewing

  • What did you accomplish?
  • Give yourself credit for each thing you did, even if it seems simple such as handing out a business card. By giving yourself credit, you will build confidence for the next time. And all the actions you take at each event will start to pay off in the future.
  • Keep a list of the networking events you attend and the people you meet. Set up reminders in your calendar to touch base with the key contacts in the future. As you receive business and referrals in the future, be sure to document those successes so that at the end of each quarter and each year, you can repeat what was most successful and avoid areas that didn’t pay off.

Follow Up

For each contact that you make:

  • Enter into your contact management system.
  • Send hand written thank you note.
  • Schedule in the next action steps. For example, follow up call, send them a referral, send them information you promised, call to invite to lunch.

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