A great question!
If the time that you are investing in networking is not returning investment there will be a number of reasons why – but all of them are within your control.
There is a simple 3 phase process that when perfected will ensure that networking really pays for you.
Making sure that your plans and preparations around where you plan to network and when, can have a real impact on the results you see. When you have really got your planning right and you know you are showing up in the right rooms, you then need to think about how you are performing in those rooms.
While standing in a room full of strangers and talking about yourself may not be everyone’s idea of a good time, it can be a fantastic way of generating new sales leads.
With more networking groups and events popping up all the time, there is always an opportunity to get out there and meet new people. You may not get a new client from every event, in fact you probably won’t, but you will be promoting your services and advertising your company, meaning more people know of you and what you do, and more people are likely to use your services or recommend you to others.
People buy from people! If you are known to someone, or have been recommended by someone they trust, you’re a much less risky proposition than your competitor who they’ve never met or heard of. The more you network, the more chances you have to generate interest in your business. Each time you go to an event and impress someone there, you are giving the best advertisement of your business possible (and it’ll cost you a lot less than a professional marketing campaign).
If you can establish yourself as the ‘go to’ experts in your business community, then you will go a long way to building a successful business.
Just like a sales meeting or a cold call when you’re at a networking event it’s important to know what you want to say, who you want to meet, and what you want to achieve. If you turn up and expect everyone to come to you and ask to know all about you and your business, you will be disappointed.
You need to listen as much as talk. Everyone is there for the same reason, and if people see that you have no interest in them and you only want to sell yourself, they won’t listen either. Be prepared to talk confidently about what you can offer, but be equally as prepared to listen to others. You may well find out some interesting things that could help you out.
When talking, be specific. Don’t ramble on about things which will be of no interest to others. Everyone will talk to many people and will only remember key things from the most interesting people they speak to, so make sure you get your point across quickly and concisely.
After the event, be sure to follow up any conversations which were of interest to you. Did anyone suggest that your services could be of use to them? Send a polite email asking to meet for a coffee where you will have more time to discuss their needs and your services. If you don’t follow-up then the event was a waste of time.
If you attend regular events, make a note of who is bringing you business, and return the favour.
While it may seem that all the time you’re spending out of the office is dead time stopping you from doing your job, networking can be the key to doing your job well. After all, what’s the point in running your business perfectly, if you have no clients?
If you would really like to know how to build a networking strategy that pays then you should be exploring the Make Networking Pay programme that will help you create plans that really pay. Please get in touch if you’d like to find out more.