For many entrepreneurs networking is a must to build your contact list the fastest way possible. After all, networking is one of the least expensive, most effective forms of marketing that you can do!
Besides if you have no customers yet and nothing to do – you have to do something! Networking is also the best way to build relationships; no other form of marketing or advertising can do this for you. People buy from people they like and connect with.
I’ve been self employed for five years and I’m still networking; I’m just more selective now on where and who I network with. When I first started out I joined four local chambers, a women’s organization and a leads group and I was at every event all the time.
As my business started picking up, I reduced the number of groups I was involved in and remained in only those that were the best fit for me and that brought me the most clients. I was extremely active in those that I stayed in so that I would be well known; basically I became the Go-to-Gal for my industry and associations.
This is what you want. You want for others to see you as the expert in your field. The key is though to be selfless, generous and knowledgeable in the process.
These days I’m networking even online through various social networking sites like MySpace, business networking sites like LinkedIn and FastPitch and other membership sites that I belong to too but this all takes time and finesse as well.
Rarely do I see very many really good networkers though so I urge you to learn more, practice your skills, focus on giving to others and really work at becoming the best networker you can because it will pay off with more customers and bigger profits.
Here are a few habits that a good networker typically exudes; they will:
* Go with a goal
* Be prepared, mentally and with materials
* Arrive early and stay late
* Work the room
* Master their ‘commercials’ and alter them as needed
* Introduce others around
* Pass people off nicely and move on
* Ask questions of the other person
* Know to listen more than they talk
* Take notes on cards
* Quickly and repeatedly follow up
So, how to you match up? What are you doing?
One thing I want to remind you of is that no matter which ones you are doing if you are NOT doing the very last one listed – the FOLLOW UP – then I can tell you right now that you are absolutely wasting your time (and money) doing the networking in the first place!!
I can’t stress to you enough that if you find yourself not being able to get your follow up done – then figure out someone to delegate this to. It’s worth whatever it costs to pay someone to do this for you because it could mean the difference between one sale and fourteen sales!