Your business is your brand. You are your brand. You’re representing your business every time you go out and meet with other people and talk about your company, your abilities, products you sell, and your business is total reflection of how you present yourself in those circumstances.
Here are some tips from Bernie Heine of Professional Business Coaches to help you be more effective at networking.
Develop a Networking Mindset
So what do I mean by that? So networking is about creating networks. It’s about connecting individuals. So when you’re in a networking meeting, you’re out meeting different people we want to have that mine said they were there for the principal purpose of making connections, not just my connections with many people, but think about making connections overall in the group.
Develop and Practice Your Elevator Pitch
Now what’s the elevator pitch? It’s that really quick introduction you use when you meet somebody: “Hi my name is Bernie, and I’m a business coach.” Now how does that leave people? Well, how about if I said “Hi my name is Bernie Heine, and I help executives earn more and work less.” How does that sit with you?
So thinking about the elevator pitch is often best when we talk about how what you do benefits other people and not specifically what you do. We want to avoid the back and forth boring kind of interaction that people often have with each other because they assume what they really need to say is “Hi, I’m an insurance salesman or I’m an investment banker or I’m a business coach or I’m am executive coach or I’m a trainer.”
Those are all interesting things, but they don’t encourage much dialogue. It doesn’t encourage people ask more questions. When you focus on the benefits you bring to your clients, you have a much bigger impact in the message. It will encourage some dialogue to take place.
Only Choose Events Relevant to You
Networking is not just going out partying, it’s work. We want to meet people that help us in our business and our careers and getting ahead. So take a look at the speakers list and the guest list and make sure that the event you’re going to is one is really relevant to you and really important.
Create Some Goals, Who Do You Want to Meet?
Once you’ve identified the events you want to go to is create a strategy. Create goals about who is it in particular that you want to meet. What are you going to say to those people when you meet them? Have a clear idea what the outcome should be of attending that particular event.
In Every Interaction, You’re Going Through Various Stages
Note that in every interaction, you’re going through a series of stages. When you first meet somebody, and then then you enter into questions and dialogue back and forth and you establish certain connections and the idea that you know different people, you’ve been in the same industry, you’ve had a similar job. You’re pulling together connections and then you’re looking to move to next steps. And next steps might be “this isn’t really working, this is not the right person for me, I don’t see any opportunities here, let me pass this person on the someone else, or we want to set up an appointment so that we are looking to close the conversation and say “great, I’ll give you a call tomorrow, or we’ll meet next Tuesday for lunch,” whatever you agree to.
What you want to have is a clear closing. You want to think about every interaction in the networking event as going through that similar process and moving towards a definitive endpoint you both agree makes the most sense.
Work The Event
Have a set of goals laid out. What do I want to accomplish?
Now some of you might be extraverted and you probably love going to events and you just can’t get enough of meeting people and talking to people and engaging with them. A downside of that might be that you end up spending too much time with too few people and it might be very interesting conversation but is it getting you toward your goals? Now if you set goals in advance that you want to meet six or seven people or you want to get three business cards, or you want to set two appointments, whatever that you might be having those in the back of your mind during your conversations might help you move along and not just spend too much time with one individual that you really along with and love to talk to.
But let’s say you’re more on the introverted side. Going to these networking events might be a very painful experience. Well having a set of goals can help you know when you’re done. So I had a conversation about this recently with a client about just setting up three appointments was his goal. So therefore once he got to that point, he knew he could disengage from the event and not have to be out there the whole time. He knew sort of his endpoint and he knew what he was up for.
Be Interested, Not Interesting
Be interested in what you’re hearing from people and not focused on your performance. You’re not on stage delivering a monologue to a crowd, you’re at a networking event and you want to learn about other people. You want to understand where they’re coming from. The best salespeople listen much more than they talk. In networking you’re a salesperson and you need to listen to understand what other people’s needs and wants are, so that you can then come with a good strategy for how to best help them. So be interested in other people and not worried about being interesting.
Networking is Not Selling
Selling is something we do afterwards when we’ve set up an appointment with somebody. This is not a time to be hawking your wares, and people that do that and there are plenty of people you’ll meet at networking events that feel this is a big sales opportunity, they often get shunned by the group.
They’re the people nobody wants to talk to anymore because they’re in your face trying to sell you something right now, trying to get you to buy whatever it is they have right now in this minute. The only thing we’re trying to accomplish in a networking event is to gain connections, help other people get connected, and for us to have appointments set afterwards. There’s plenty of time to be selling your products after the event.
Bring a Colleague Along with You
So the ninth tip, and this goes for really large events, you might want to consider double teaming. Take a colleague along and split up the group. Split up the list of names of people you want to talk to.
A key thing to pay attention to is don’t find yourself each talking to the same individual. If you’re there with two people, spread out. If you see that your colleague is engaged in a conversation with someone, avoid also entering into the same conversation because you’re there to accomplish your goals which is to meet all the people you have on your list. Two of you at the same time with one person might be fun but that’s not really the purpose of why we’re there.
And In business, most things is to build trust, and following up is a great way to show our level of trust. We talk to a lot of people, we said a lot of things, and now we have to do the things we said. If we said “I’m going to call you tomorrow,” call them. If we say we’re going to follow up with an email, follow up with that email. But in every case we need to follow up and meet the commitments of our promises.
So good luck with networking. Get out there and be yourself, set goals, and develop your businesses and develop your brand.