Networking is probably the oldest, easiest, most effective
and least expensive way to get more business. It
doesn't necessarily involve selling your product or service
but it does mean selling yourself. However, that doesn't
involve a lot of talking - it does involve a lot of
Networking is about making connections with people and
building a network of meaningful relationships.
Having good relationships means - these people will either
do business with you and/or recommend you to others.
These people are your unpaid sales-force and you've got to
ensure that they do a good job.
Here are 9 steps to successful networking:
#1 Be prepared - Particularly if you're attending a formal
networking event like the Chamber of Commerce.
#2 Think about whom you'll be meeting - Consider what your
opening remarks or questions will be. And think about what
you're going to say when they question you.
#3 Make sure you have lots of business cards, a small
notebook, and a pen - These should be easily accessible and
not involve a rummage through pockets or a bag to find them.
Reminder - NEVER go anywhere without business cards
#4 You don't necessarily need brochures - These can be sent
when you follow up later. A networking event is not a place
to sell your product or service. (This is not understood by
the people who have bored the pants off me over the years)
#5 Think about what you're going to wear - I've seen people
rush into a networking event in clothes that look like
they've been slept in.
If it means having a change of clothes in the office or
going home to freshen up - then do it. Remember, the image
you present to other people is the image they'll have of
Men should wear a bright tie (not cheap) and women should
wear something bright. Remember, however - business dress,
#6 Personal hygiene - Brush your teeth or use a breath
freshener. I've met people at networking events whose breath
would bring down a rhino at fifty feet. Avoid drinking wine
or coffee; they can make your breath sour. Stick to mineral
water or a soft drink.
#7 Watch out for the perfume - Both men and women, strong
scents can be overpowering.
#8 Name badges - They'll probably hand these out at the
event, however consider having your own produced. They're
not expensive to produce and it means you can ensure that
what's on the badge is what you want. (Conference organisers
often get the details wrong on name badges) Pin the badge
your right lapel - it's easier for people to read.
The majority of people shake hands with their right hand. As
you lean forward to shake hands, it means that the other
person can read your badge easier.
#9 Go with a partner - Take a friend or one of your team to
a networking event. While you're there, alternately separate
and come together. When you see your partner with someone
a group, walk up and let your partner introduce you. Your
partner will introduce you using a pre-agreed benefit
statement. Something like - "This is my friend Mary Smith -
she helps business people find more customers by improving
their networking skills." It's then easier for you to make
Discover how you can generate more business without having
to cold call!
Alan Fairweather is the author of "How to get More Sales
without Selling". This book is packed with practical things
that you can do to get customers to come to you!