Here are five secrets to building the right network to make business networking a win-win for everyone.
Creating a solid business network full of rewarding partnerships does not have to be challenging. All it takes is a bit of planning and organizing. After you take your first steps to implement your power networking plan, you will quickly see your dedication to building strong networks toward your business goals. Here are a few secrets to building the right network and some additional strategies to make business networking a win-win for everyone.
Networking events offer a great chance to meet new people with whom you can form equally beneficial partnerships. Research the networking event and those attending before you decide to attend. You should know about the event, who’s organizing it, and if there is a speaker or presentation. If the event is based on a specific topic, you may want to read up on it. Familiarizing yourself with the people you’re meeting before the event, you’ll be better positioned to connect with them. You can figure out how you can add value to their business while also presenting yourself in the best light.
After you research the event and understand more about the event and those attending, identify your purpose for attending. What do you hope to gain by attending the event and meeting the people you’ll meet there? Clarifying “why” you are attending will help you determine who you want to meet, what value you can add to the event, and how to follow up with them. For example, if your goal is to meet someone to refer a segment of your customers to fill a gap you do not offer, you’ll want to prepare to explain the benefits of sharing your audience with them.
Instead of attending a networking event to get clients and sell. Try another approach, focusing on helping others in their business. What value or benefit do you have to offer to the group? Try spending some time determining the unique value you offer so you can communicate this when you meet people. While it is customary to tell your story, who you are, what you do, emphasize how you get results for others. This is the value of knowing you. Drill it down to a few key benefits and frame the discussion this way.
Look at your past successes and areas of expertise, and think about how you’ve achieved results for others. I learned this in my local networking group, Business Network International (BNI). I met the most fantastic business professionals there. My favorite part was asking,” who do you know that needs ____________ services/products from one of the members?” An unselfish approach to networking is a win-win for all.
Face it, not everyone is an extrovert and can walk into a room or in an online meeting and just start talking to someone. Being nervous about the unknown or not knowing anyone attending the event is perfectly natural. You may be nervous initially, but it won’t take much to get used to attending events and introducing yourself and your business. Create a ritual, like listening to music, singing, etc., where you can warm up before the event and get into a social mood, so you can be pumped up to meet people, whether it’s in person or online.
Believe it or not, networking can be fun! Even though you are attending a networking event with a business goal, you can still have fun networking. Remember that others will enjoy interacting with you when you’re enjoying yourself and making yourself more approachable. Networking can be a fun social outing where you can focus on your business with like-minded others. Try this approach and see how your motivation increases as well as increases because you’ll begin to attract more people to your approachable and infectious personality.
If you’re attending an in-person networking event, make sure you have business cards or learn how to create a QR code for your LinkedIn profile. When attending an online networking event, ensure you are familiar with the technology needed. So, if you’re meeting over Zoom and you’ve never used It before, you can arrange a Zoom call with colleagues and friends to familiarize yourself with its features. Make sure you have a good microphone, your sound works, and you know how to mute yourself. It’s a real pain to have your technology not work properly when you’re trying to present your business. Master sharing features because you may want to show someone a document or your website. Before the event, think about how you present yourself.
If you are attending a virtual event, it goes without saying to wear appropriate clothes as you are representing your business. Check your surroundings and make sure your background is free from clutter. Remember you want to present your best self and your business. Free your area from distractions and noise so you can give your meeting your full attention.
Whether it’s an online or in-person meeting, prepare your short story of three sentences explaining who you are, what you do, and how you serve people—your elevator speech. It should focus on how you benefit others. You’ll want to refer to this because it concisely introduces your business with poise. During one-on-one conversations, focus on the other person and allow them to talk about themselves and their business.
Finally, check out your online presence before you go, as people will look you up if they’re interested in getting to know you better. Ensure your website is professional and your social media profiles are up to date.
Always plan to follow up with people you’ve met at the networking event. You could send an email after the event, reminding them of who you are and making some offer to extend your relationship with them. Be sure to help them—not just how you can get more sales.
Got questions, looking for answers?—Just Ask Sherry.