Networking is always a challenge to all small business owners. It can be especially challenging to people who want to do business with the small business owner. Many times, small business owners do not show up at network events because they feel like the bait in a sea of sharks. Most networking events are about people who want to make connections with the small business owner. Many times the only result of these meetings is a pocket full of business cards from people looking for the same leads for which you are looking. But always remember, these people know the people you seek in business. Make good referral contacts, and you will work your way to the person with whom you want to make contact.
So how do you make these meetings work to your advantage? First, take a look at your attitude when approaching these meetings. Here are a few changes you can make that will allow you to view networking from a different prospective. Consider changing your “From” attitude to a “To” attitude, and you will find that more productive connections will start to happen.
Networking Attitude Shift
|Handing everyone a business card||Selectively giving out business cards|
|Leading first all about you||Leading first about others|
|Focus on my small business||Focusing on the bigger possibilities|
|Old School Selling||Abundance and creativity|
|Waiting for a referral before referring||Referring others first|
|Being reactive||Being proactive|
|Going to events looking for “prospects”||Going to events to look for interesting folks|
|Thinking small||Thinking bigger & thinking BIG|
|Randomly following up||Using a process to follow up regularly|
|Having a narrow group of contacts||Creating a wide net of referral partners|
|Hard work, little fun||Fun, amazing connections always|
There is a concept in networking called Netweaving (look it up on the Internet). Basically its philosophy is to ask what you can do for other people first. Go to networking and leads events and ask, “What can I do for you?” People remember others who want to help them.
Second, be sure you follow up with people you meet. When you take a few minutes to jot an e-mail, or leave a voice message, you are saying, “I value you and what you do and what you have to say.” People will remember those they meet who value them.
Third, try to keep your name and face in front of these people. Offer to deliver a talk at their industry group; make sure you say “hi” the next time you see them; follow up on suggestions you made to them and people you said you would connect with them. This will go a long way to helping them remember you. When they remember you, they will remember what you do.
Fourth, invest some time to get to know them. Ask them to meet you for a cup of coffee or a meal. Ask them questions about their business, how they got to where they are, and what their goals are and what the future holds. Anyone who pays attention to them or takes an interest in them will be remembered.
Following these simple tips will ensure that you make an impression and are remembered. Next time one of these contacts needs services or products you provide, your name will be on top of the list. Try giving before you get. It works!!
Make it a great week!!