4 Important Networking Tips That Generate Referrals
Thinking that you can run a successful business without doing any networking? That is short sighted and will likely leave you with far fewer opportunities to build upon.
Many of us dread entering a room and introducing ourselves to complete strangers. With that being said, here are 4 important networking tips that may ease you into the networking world, and can potentially help you generate referrals for yourself or business.
1. EARLY BIRD GETS THE WORM – BE EARLY
This. Is. A. Life. Lesson. You’ve heard of this a thousand times before, but it’s one of the most important tips that anyone can take and use to be successful. You don’t have to be the first person at a networking event, but you also don’t want to be the last person in the door. With that being said, always try to attend as many networking events as you possibly can and get to know the lay of the land. Introduce yourself to the hosts and featured guests. Thank them for taking time to put on a great event, especially if there is little or no cost to you. Some networking meetings focus more on learning while other events encourage making contacts or business connections. So remember to do research on who’s going to be there, and clearly distinguish your goals before attending these networking events.
2. BE INTERESTED – NOT INTERESTING
Don’t make networking conversations about yourself. Those who don’t like to network often times overcompensate by taking charge of the discussion. Make sure you let the other person talk about what they’re interested in, ask questions and follow along with the conversation. When talking to people, make sure you hold eye contact, and repeat their name to let them know that you’re listening. Everyone wants to feel special, so it’s your job to make them feel that way! Remember, be a conversationalist – not a yapper.
3. BE APPROACHABLE – WE’RE ALL FRIENDS HERE
Connect with people on a personable human level. This will then build a stronger, long lasting relationship. The only way to get to know someone is to have genuine and thoughtful conversations with them. You wouldn’t come up to a friend, disrupt their current conversation, talk about yourself, hand them a card about yourself, and then walk away. So why would you even think about doing that a networking event? Treat your new networking relationships as how you’d treat your friendships. Remember – “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.”
4. HELLO, IT’S ME YOU’RE LOOKING FOR – THE FOLLOW-UP
As Lionel Richie once sang, “Hello, it’s me you’re looking for.” Networking is just the start of the conversation, it doesn’t all end after you walk away. If name tags are available, make sure to grab your before getting started. If you are asked to write your name on the tag, consider making your first name much larger. Humor is also something you may want to work into your name tag to help break the ice and offer a starting point for a conversation. Make sure you exchange contact information (business cards are helpful) and discuss the best way to stay in contact. For certain individuals, phone, text or email will be the best form of contact. For others, it may be social networks like LinkedIn. Get in contact with them within the next 48 hours of the event, and let them know that you’re interested and available, and reference back to something you discussed. This way, it will not only make a good impression but also help your contact remember who you are and why they need to know you.
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