Women In Business

Networking tips that will even work for shy people

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Let’s face it, not all of us are totally comfortable with networking.  I don’t believe a great networker is born either, but rather it’s something you learn. In school, I was voted “least known student in the class” and then in 2010 I was awarded “Networker of the Year” – and for four consecutive years since. I am an introvert by nature, so I’m proof you don’t have to be outgoing and a vibrant, bubbly person to be a great networker.

Below are some great tips to help you.  Remember also that so often, we do business with people we like, trust, respect and know, so networking really does work when it comes to generating business for you.  It’s a very powerful tool to grow your own business and grow its profits.   So, hopefully some of the networking tips below will help you get better results at your next event.


1. Don’t speak to every single person at the event

Some people gauge the success of their networking based on the volume of people they have spoken to or the number of business cards they have collected.   I’ve been to events where someone interrupts my discussion with another person, introduces themselves, says a few words and then moves on.

I’ve never done business with any of these people. Hey, I barely remember them and certainly don’t know who they are – even though they tossed a business card into my hand, they made no (or rather no positive) impression on me.

Frankly, they may as well have not attended the event. Let me say this, and I will say it again – networking is about developing relationships and getting to know people, which does not happen in 30 seconds.  Networking is like a marriage; who of you got engaged on your first date?!

 

2. Make sure you are listening

Yes, I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “you have two ears and one mouth; use them proportionally”.  But in reality another critical networking mistake to make is to not only do all the talking, but to not listen.

By not listening you miss out on some great information and on the opportunity to connect with the person. This is where introverts are actually very good networkers, because they have a tendency to listen, so if you have the need to interrupt or take over the conversation, please hold yourself back.

 

3. Be early to events

The best networking (and subsequent business) is done before and after an event – rarely during the event. Now I know there are times when you really are busy (been there myself) but what I always do is one OR the other.

If I know I have to leave early (or dead on time) then I’ll be very sure to arrive quite early and get my quality networking done then … Or stay late if I can’t arrive early.  The ideal is to allow about 20 minutes before AND after the event.  Schedule your other appointments accordingly.

 

4. Don’t forget your tools

Now by tools, I’m talking about your business cards. Seriously, it takes a printer about two days to print these; probably a shorter time than the event RSVP cut-off. If you are running low, action a re-print very quickly. Please, never turn up to an event without your cards. If you can’t organise something this simple, people are going to wonder ‘how you do business’. Or really, they may not wonder, because they won’t remember you after a week has passed — because they have nothing to remember you by.

 

5. Keep in touch

Hey, you met the person, got their card – of course they will just automatically do business with you! No? Remember that networking is about building relationships, which takes time and effort. You need to keep in contact but please don’t make it a regimented and scheduled event.

I know one lady who contacts me almost exactly every six months. I never hear from her month to month, and then at six months, I get the email: ‘Let’s catch up for coffee?’. In fact, I will bet (although I never did ask/confirm) that she had me in her Tasks Scheduler set for six-monthly ‘to contact’. Do make it regular, but not regimented.

I keep in touch with people via phone, email, Facebook, LinkedIn and it’s random (but regular).  Also spamming people is not “keeping in touch” that is just spamming and not practised by a good networker!

 

6. Promote other people

A great networker totally understands the value of promoting someone else. In fact 73% of people will believe something said by another person, well before what that person says about themselves. So, if you are at an event, and someone you know (and recommend) is there, give them public praise … it will go down incredibly well, and before you know it, others will be doing the same for you.

Even how you introduce a person can be done incredibly well, for example “Can I introduce you to Jayne, she is an amazing printer and has been doing all my stuff for ages now”.  How powerful is that introduction!

 

Remember

These networking tips will turn you into a good networking which can generate massive business for some of you, so be sure to do it effectively.  And remember, you should be tracking your leads so every time a prospective new client or customer contacts you, ask them “so how did you hear about me?”.

Write this down and track the statistics – it will tell you where the leads are coming from and what is working or not.  And if someone you networked with sent you this lead, be absolutely sure to promptly and personally thank them, with as little as a personal hand written note and a scratchie, or a nice gift or gift voucher.

 

About Donna Stone

Donna Stone is a business coach with three decades of experience. She grew her own business from a garage to be a multi-award winning operation that spanned five locations nationally. Donna works with business owners and other business coaches, consultants and trainers to help them build their own success. Her Coach the Coach ™ program has proved exceedingly popular. Donna is a prolific writer with hundreds of articles written and six books published. Visit www.donna-stone.com.au

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    1 Comment

    1. trevor@silverstonebusinessforum.co.uk'

      Megan

      May 1, 2015 at 12:12 am

      Brilliant article, making sure that you’re listing is a great piece of advice. Thanks for sharing.

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