Curiosity, sincerity and a willingness to share and assist; it’s a healthy attitude when networking and the results can be very rewarding. Whatever you do, don’t just turn up at a networking event and hand out business cards. Your strike rate will be low compared with a good wholesome strategy for helping others as you help yourself.
First and foremost networking is about building personal relationships and it pays to give generously with your own warmth and genuine assistance. The moral is if you help others get what they want you will get what you want.
When you see a crowd you’d like to join, connect with just one of those people as they step out of the group to grab a drink, a meal or go to the bathroom. Dealing one-on-one is easier and a lot less scary. Strike up a conversation and see if you can get them to take you back to the group as a new recruit.
Strike up a personal conversation or two and always look as to how you can help them connect with people of interest to them that you already know. They will then naturally require your card to make that connection. If you get their card in return, be sure to follow up within 24 hours and be genuine in your offer of assistance. With your first email, offer to meet for coffee and discuss who you know and then help nail down those leads, while making interesting conversation that helps you get to know them better. After your first introduction a follow up email might say something along the lines of:
It was great meeting you at the Wellington event. I really enjoyed talking with you. Maybe we could catch up for lunch or drinks next week if you are free. It occurred to me you may appreciate some of my current clients as possible contacts for your business. If you like I could make a list of people I think would appreciate your services and offer an introduction…
In this email you are renewing the initial contact and making it not all about you, but offering to give some assistance (and hoping they’ll feel obligated to respond in kind.)
If they agree to meet, make the location convenient for them and definitely do not be late. It is better to be early than keep them waiting.
Be prepared to pay for the coffee or drinks and do it quickly without hesitation. This again may provide a sense of obligation but don’t hold on to that too tightly. Make some of your conversation about your kids, your dogs, cars, holiday locations; whatever it takes to get some connection going and provide some depth of relationship.
If their body language says they’re getting bored, change the conversation to something more interesting and be prepared to finish the meeting if you sense they’re becoming restless and before things get at all uncomfortable.
It’s important to build a friendship not just a business relationship so you can ask for some business help yourself at a later date.
Be prepared to meet again and make a point of following up as successful business connections can take years, not months to build.
Don't be shy if you see me at an event or network gathering - I would love to connect and collaborate :)
Give me a call to book in that 30min phone chat about your business and how to move it forward!
09 8352952 or 021 2121306 - I look forward to hearing from you.
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