Networking is a powerful action but takes a lot of commitment and time. As a business owner, time is probably something to don't give away much. Therefore spending your time networking, should be lucrative.
For an extrovert, networking comes naturally. For an introvert, networking is the subject your nightmares are made of. However just because someone is a social butterfly, does not mean they can network effectively.
5 Tips to Network Effectively
Be Intentional. Networking groups are a dime a dozen. Some are industry exclusive and some have an open door policy. But not all networking groups are created equally. Some take a strong commitment to lead and sales while others are more of a social hour. You have to consider a few things here, are the members my potential clients or do they have a circle of people who would hire me or buy my products? Also, are you looking to generate leads or a support network of like-minded industries? Don't waste your time or money on membership fees for groups that lack structure and accountability.
Know Your Story. Who are you, not personally but who are you in business, why are you in business? Some call this the elevator pitch. Memorize this, practice this in the mirror! You should be able to tell your one-line story with confidence and pizazz. Here is my pitch: "Excited to be in the world of marketing, Ross And Roll helps small business owners grow and succeed through e-commerce and public relations strategies." I have my industry, my business name, my target client, and what I do all in one sentence.
Don't Blabber. You're networking to discuss future endeavors and not you personally. The perks of friendship may come along the way to lead to more family talk, but leave the kids out of the designated networking time you set aside to grow your business. Focus on the idea of new leads and sharing your brand. Know your story, and accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.
Keep Notes. Write it down. You think you will remember, but you won't. Jot down the names, organizations, and bright ideas that crossed your mind. This will help you take it back to the drawing board to put any thoughts you had into action. The right networking settings will have light bulbs going off in your head! Hint: I take notes in bullet form fashion to easily crate to-do lists for myself.
Be Yourself. This is not a fake it until you make it situation. Be genuine and comfortable. If your line of work is casual, find a group that you can be you. Some groups meet up for lunch for a casual business meeting, some for 5'0clock cocktails, others in suits and stilettos. I love a mid week morning group with a hot cup of coffee to motivate me through the rest of the week. You want to be you so that you feel at home and are more likely to get involved and participate.
So get out there, find a networking group that will help you active your goals, and hold you accountable to your own dreams.
Check out my other blog on 5 Marketing Tools You Should Have