Over the years I’ve been promoting my business through networking, I’ve heard the good, the bad and the ugly about networking. For many of us who have networked as a way to promote our business, we know it works. After all, why would we keep doing it if it didn’t? But for every one person who has had success, there are at least five who gave it up. So for those who are considering networking, here are three basic things you can do to make it work for you:
- Don’t expect to do business at the networking event. It doesn’t really matter if you’ve got the best elevator speech on the planet. No one wants to be “sold” at a networking meeting. So why are you there? To meet people and determine if its someone you want to develop a business relationship with. What should you do? Collect information (business cards) and determine if you’d like to meet at least one or two of those people later on on a one-to-one basis.
- Follow up. Remember those business cards you collected? Well, within one to two business days you should be either sending emails or making phone calls to invite that person to meet.
- Give it time. The biggest mistake that most people who give up on networking make is to expect overnight miracles. If they don’t land a big deal after the first or second meeting then clearly networking doesn’t work. This is not true. It takes time to build your reputation and time to find those connections and time for those connections to find the right opportunity. At least give a networking group six months to a year before you give up on it. And then, try a different group/event/organization.
Naturally, networking isn’t for everyone. Sometimes, it’s the industry, the schedule or even your own personality that just may not be the right fit for networking. But before you give up, at least give these three tips a try. You never know what you will discover!