Business Networking Ideas

How Advisors Can Be Better Networking

Everyone knows that I love networking.  That's because networking combines socializing with building your business, two things I love to do!  However, I haven't always liked networking. 

Back in my specialty retail days I was horrible at networking.  I joined the Scottsdale Chamber, went to a few functions, stood at the back of the room, then stopped going and didn't renew. 

I didn't feel comfortable promoting my business, not knowing what to say or how to act, so I declared that networking didn't work.  Of course that was BUNK! I just didn't know how to network successfully.  These days it's different.  I LOVE to network and meet new people because I have made a decision to enjoy it.  How about you? Do you dread networking? Or do you choose to make it enjoyable?

Imagine for a moment that you have arrived at a networking event. You walk into the room and you don't know anyone.  You feel awkward and rather stupid. What do you do? What do you say?  If this is you, I promise that after reading this article you will feel more confident while networking. 

Business Networking Tips:

Please bring your personality when networking!

I met a woman at an event who struck me as a very bad professional networker. She walked up to me, poker-faced and handed me her business card while launching into her speech about what her business does. She never once asked my name nor what type of business I have. She didn't smile nor did she ask any sort of icebreaker question to create a comfortable space between us.

This woman didn't ask how she could help me. In short, she didn't have a personality. She struck me as the sort of person who doesn’t like what she does and she's just trying to get it over with as soon as possible. When you are out networking and representing your business you must demonstrate your personality. Be professional but be yourself.

Smile! And while you're at it, laugh when appropriate. Be present and be pleasant. Listen to what the person has to say. Don't be eager to rush on to the next person.

Learn how to break the Ice

networking ideas

What do you do if you're not comfortable talking about yourself? Talk about the other person! Memorize five questions that you can ask that will elicit a response from your prospect. Get them talking about themselves.

I met a wonderful, bubbly fellow at the last FPA event. He noticed my name badge and said with a big smile "Well Miss Prosperity, what do you do?" Given that the name of my business is Prosperity Coaching, this gentleman used his personality and a perfect icebreaker to start a conversation with me. Need help? Here are Five Key Questions to Start a Conversation.

Be Giving and Authentic

Think about this person's product or service and whether you can connect them with a buyer. The best networkers are people connectors and authentically work to match people up with those who need their services. Do not however make a fatal error by being too cutesy like one woman I met a few years back who said her title was "people pimp."

Some words are just plain offensive and this is one of them. If you feel you might know someone who could use this person's services, take their business card and write on it what you're thinking. If you don't write it down, you'll be hard pressed to remember what the heck you were talking about the next day. This has happened to me, so please write it down!

Follow Up

Most networking fails due to lack of follow up. Do what you said you would do. Write or email and set up a coffee. There's nothing better than the hand-written card, but if you're like me, automated online services like Send Out Cards work best. All you have to do is log on, select a card, write your message, and hit send and a real card will be delivered to your prospect's mailbox by the postal service.

One note of caution, please don't send pre-formatted emails like the one a fellow sent to me recently. He attended a networking meeting and then assumed it's just fine to spam the group of us collectively with generic emails like this one: "Hello, I just got back to the states after working in Australia. Please contact me if you need my help with your clients." How likely am I to contact him? Not at all.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

I have an Action Item for everyone reading this article: Before heading out to your next networking event, try to visualize a positive outcome. Think about how you will feel.  Think about what you want to have happen as a result of the event.

Imagine Your Success - See it in your mind's eye!

Imagine yourself walking into the event well-dressed, smiling, and happy. Imagine that as you gaze around the room you find someone who looks uneasy yet approachable.

Move toward that person and make a pleasant remark about something they are wearing.  During your conversation, ask them the five questions you have memorized.  After the event, follow up with those you made a meaningful connection with. 

So there you have it. A few business networking ideas and tips to be a better networker.  With a little pre-planning and the right attitude, you, like me, can learn to network like a pro while combining socializing with building your business.  I know you can do it!

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