In today's competitive business world, the more contacts you have..the more people who know about you, your firm and what we do, your talents and abilities...the more opportunities you will have.
For some people, networking comes naturally. They actually have fun networking. However, for most of us, networking is a learned skill and one that needs practice in order to feel comfortable and be effective. Try these tips to give yourself a jump-start and enjoy the rewards of becoming a Master Networker.
1. Develop The Right ATTITUDE
You have to want to make the effort! We are all attracted to people who are approachable and friendly. SMILE and ENJOY the opportunity to make new contacts.
2. Network EVERYWHERE and with EVERYONE.
The opportunities to make new contacts are endless. People frequently think of networking only at events such as Chamber of Commerce meeting and Professional Organization. Some of the most productive contacts come from chance encounters...in the grocery check-out line, at the ball park, in the doctor's or dentist's waiting room, in an elevator, at a party, and the list goes on. Whenever and wherever there is another human being there is an opportunity to network.
3. Set a Networking Goal Each Week.
Set a goal each week for the number of new contacts you want to make. Start with even one or two until your confidence grows. Then, increase the goal.
4. Make The First Move.
Greet everyone with smile and a friendly hello followed by a positive comment or open-ended question to get a conversation going. At a party or other gathering approach people standing alone and draw them into conversation. Most people hesitate to approach a group of friends already in conversation. The individual standing alone will welcome your approach and you will find it easy to initiate an interchange.
5. Work Up A Memorable Introduction.
In twenty-five words or less be prepared to say who you are and what you do...in a way that will make the other person want to know more about you. Then, immediately ask questions to learn more about your new contact. Use their name several times during the first five minutes of conversation.
6. Arm Yourself With Professional Business Cards and Wear An Attractive Name Tag.
Both business cards and a name tag, especially a name tag that lists your profession or business name in an intriguing way helps attract the interest and reinforces name recognition. John Doe, Business Coach , is almost guaranteed to prompt questions about what coaching is...a great opening to share your expertise and gain new clients or referrals. When you do swap cards with someone, jot down a reminder on the back such as where you met, what you discussed, sales opportunities, etc. Printing a quote, helpful hint, or other original and interesting information on your own card will encourage others to keep the card and remember you. Finally, always carry your cards in an attractive case. Dog-earred and stained cards dug from the depths of a handbag or pocket detract from your professional image.
7. Be Prepared With A Mental GET & GIVE List.
Networking is a reciprocal process. It is about getting and giving information, resources, advice and referrals. Maintain a mental "Give List"...a tip, idea, resource, or recent discovery you can share. Your "Get List" will be information you are seeking, people you want to meet, and referrals you would like to have.
8. Organize Your Network Resource Bank.
Record new acquaintances and contacts on your Team 100 List, in a rolodex, use computer software or even index cards. Set up whatever system works best for you to keep in touch and nurture your new contacts.
Use your resource file to keep in touch with those in your network. Never give out your card and say, "give me a call." Follow-up is your responsibility. Research shows that amazingly only 20% of sales leads are ever followed up....80% of potential opportunities are lost by failure to follow-up. Use every opportunity to send a follow-up personal note, a thank you, a congratulations, or a relevant article of information.
The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary. Remember WORK makes up the better part of Networking.