Be confident and positive
Your level of confidence during a networking session will be set by the way you introduce yourself, the way you speak and the way in which you interact with others. Dr. Ivan Misner, the founder of businessnetworking.com, says: “Everyone likes to do business with an enthusiastic optimist…if you want your network to work for you, then you have to work your network in a positive and supportive manner.”
When networking, be prepared to convey what your business is about in clear and understandable terms. Try not to overflow the person you are talking to with too much information; remember less is more! Also, be ready to have your business cards, flyers or brochures on hand.
Be heard (and listen)
Whether you are at a networking event or at a dinner party, keep in mind these should now be seen as opportunities to pitch you product or idea; yes, a social platform can definitely be an opportunity to connect and market. Having the ability to listen to others, as well as talk about yourself will determine how many successful connections you make. Misner adds: Remember that a good networker has two ears and one mouth and uses them proportionately…be specific but brief.” His opinion on selling vs. connecting while networking is simple – “Networking is about developing relationships with other professionals. Meeting people at events should be the beginning of that process, not the end of it.”
How often should you network? According to a study done with over 12000 businesses, people who networked about 6 hours a week got positive results from their networking opportunities compared to people who only networked about 2 hours a week. Misner believes that if you want to increase your business referrals then you should be networking at least 8-10 hours a week. So, gear up, pile on the business cards and get yourself out there!
You can be proactive by contacting your new connections via email or phone (depending on the relationship) – following through with commitments of correspondence will show your willingness to build a sustainable business relationship. According to Misner: If you don’t follow up effectively, you will have wasted your time…Be sure to fulfil any promises you’ve made.”
Networking can be a daunting task, but as with anything, practice makes perfect. Stay positive and give just as much as you want to receive. Keep in mind why you want to network and it will improve your chances of success. – AR