Networking is one of the activities that all business people have to do from time-to-time. Whether you attend a Chamber of Commerce ‘After Hours’ event, a speed dating lunch, or you actually meet someone new on an elevator, networking is key new business development in most industries.
I am continually astonished by the numbers of business people who are afraid to network. I have a client that I recently met at a Chamber event and the client spent the whole night literally pressed up against the wall. I think one of the reasons folks are afraid is they don’t really understand what networking is all about.
Let’s look at a few points that might be helpful for the introverts.
Networking is about developing relationships with people and providing value to them, not selling.
The goal in attending a Chamber of Commerce event is not to try to find several new people to become your clients overnight. That’s probably not going to happen. Okay, if it happens, that’s great. But you shouldn’t set out with that as you goal.
I believe in the givers gain philosophy. Find people of value and develop a relationship with them based on your being valuable to them. Try to make a connection or introduction for them. Send a legal or industry update that you’ve run across recently to share. Try to find a way to be of value to the other person. If you do, they’ll want to keep you as a new contact and hopefully they’ll try to find people to connect you with or pass along valuable information.
Just quit selling. That should help most of you.
Ask for help
Ask one of your coworkers or business associates to introduce you to someone you don’t know. Then just talk. No pressure. No hard sell. Talk about their business, their ideal customer, their kids. Act like you’re making a new friend. I know most of you haven’t been to Kindergarten in several, but just try.
Many people struggle with the closeness of friendships. It’s not like you’re going to become best pals and go to movies and take family vacations together. But you want to focus on providing value.
If you focus on the other person and ask questions, it’s much easier to get into a dialogue. Prepare some questions before your event if you’re really afraid. Where do you work? What do you do? How long have you been there? Who are your target customers? See, it’s not that hard.
Take a Friend
If you’re really that afraid, take a coworker along. You have to find a way to get out there and generate new relationships so that you have opportunities to be recommended. If the person isn’t a business associate or coworker, brief them on the goals for the event and have them take the lead in introductions but then excuse themselves so you develop the relationship after the conversation is going.
There are lots of ways to get started. It doesn’t really matter how you get going, just get going.
The worst thing you can do is to meet a really interesting person at a networking event and then never make contact with them again.
Send a handwritten note telling them you enjoyed the discussion and offering additional assistance on some matter that you discussed. Provide an additional business card for one of their coworkers. Send an email and invite them for coffee to continue your discussion.
Do something now and again in a month or so.
Don’t just meet them and forget them. You might as well not have gone.
Networking is really not that scary if you approach it from a value proposition standpoint. The long game is to get more business. The short game is to develop a business relationship with someone with whom there is mutual interest.
Connect with me on:
Boy behind planter: http://curiosando708090.altervista.org/nascondino/
Boy hiding behind corner: http://vendereiltetto.it/perche-i-clienti-in-edilizia-non-scelgono-te/
Boy and girl: ttp://fiorellaq.blogspot.com/2012/05/le-regole-del-nascondino.html
Three girls with dolls: http://gua-sta.blogspot.com/2013/09/giochi-e-ricordi.html