What comes to your mind when you think about networking?
It could be one of these 2 scenarios….
- Strange people talking to each other, you kind of feel a little left out?
- Time to catch up with friends, you haven’t seen them since the last networking meeting?
How do you know if your networking is even working effectively?
It can be difficult when you start out in a new business or even if you have been doing it for years (like me) you can still get stuck into a rut.
Scene A: you get a phone call from a person you met yesterday telling you excitedly about a person they have spoken to about you and they know you just have to meet each other! Details are sent through to your mobile and it is someone you have heard about that is the perfect person for your business.
Scene B: you have been missing some networking meetings and you get phone calls from people telling you they met so & so at the networking meeting you missed and your name came up. They both know you and have you as the common link to kick off their conversation.
These scenarios happen to me frequently, in fact today. The best part is I don’t even have to turn up and I get called, texted, face booked or messaged and I am happy to hear when my contacts get to finally meet each other.
The funniest example of this happened when a medical professional that used to treat me mentioned that he heard my name being spoken in a local cafe where he ordered his coffee. Two people sitting at the cafe were getting to know each other. He asked me “Who doesn’t know you?” and “Why do they tell each other how they know you?”
I laughed and told him they would’ve been 2 business owners meeting for the first time. I probably had instigated the meeting. (Still don’t know who they were though)
Many of you will think this only occurs because I have been around networking a long time.
But this has been happening very early on for me. My networking now is a lot more low-key than it was 18+ years ago. Word of mouth spreads at each event whether I am there or not. That is effective.
Networking is a skill, it can be learned and nurtured.
It comes to some people a lot more easily than others. So don’t get despondent if it feels awkward and strange in the beginning. Different groups have different outcomes that they want to achieve. You have to taste test many to find one that feels right for you. Quite often you need to belong to a couple of groups to nurture the different sides of you the business owner and you the “business”.
As each of you has a different type of business, so too there are many different personality’s who tackle networking with different personality styles.
Even though there are some rules, tips and tricks to learn about networking, many are common sense and sometimes a little practice helps too. I have visited so many different groups over the years and walked in as a total unknown and come out knowing I have made the right connections just by automatically doing the right things.
It is not a race of who knows the most people. It is finding the right people to talk to.
It is important to be you and authentic, not to pretend to be someone you are not. People can smell a fake a mile away.
Be curious. Many years ago I could not get enough information about all the types of businesses there were and why people started them. Each person has a fascinating story. A personal story.
Remember not everyone at a meeting is always there to get more business, the majority usually are but not everyone.
Eighteen months ago I asked “why do you attend networking groups” on our Linked In page, the discussions confirmed my belief that not everyone went for more business though of course when you are a new business, leads are of paramount importance!
Truly effective networkers become Influencers.
They are the people who others come to, to ask if they know the right person for them. They become walking directories.
Every one of you has friends, family and business acquaintances that are looking for something or someone.
Start connecting them with the right people. Ask for feedback so you know the connections are treating each other with respect.
May your network become your biggest fan base, as it all reflects back on you and your business.
Tell me a networking story of what has or hasn’t worked for you & I’ll swap one back at you, I’ve got plenty to tell!