Networking is not about how many business cards you collect, give out or exchange. Networking also isn’t about working the room or shameless self-promotion.
What is Networking
- Networking is about establishing a rapport with someone you meet.
- Building a mutually beneficial relationship as well as mutual business and growth opportunities.
- Networking could be an introduction or a referral which may lead to an opportunity such as a radio show or podcast interview, a guest blog post or a speaking engagement.
When networking, think creatively, set realistic goals and do not focus on just looking for potential clients or collaboration partners.
Relationships are the currency in today’s business environment so building your network IS building your net-WORTH.
How To Network Successfully
- Ask open ended questions instead of questions that can be answered with a yes or no to stimulate conversation and answer questions with a “serve not sell” mentality to stand out from the crowd.
- Don’t think of networking as the opportunity pitch yourself or your business, but to learn more about their business and who they serve in order to find synergy to continue the conversation after the event.
- Be selective in where you network by attending fewer events, and only those where your ideal audience will be.
- Set realistic goals. It is better to have a deeper conversation with 5 new people who may potentially be, or lead you to a client or collaborative partner than 20 people you share small talk with. Be intentional and listen more than you talk.
- Make sure to follow up within 48 hours and NEVER add someone to your email marketing list without their permission.
Be A Conversation Starter – Not a Conversation Killer
My favorite question that I like to open up conversation with is, who do you serve? Works much better than the dreaded “what do you do” question and will allow you to learn if you serve mutual industries. It also takes the focus off of them and onto their target audience which can lead to a much better conversation moving forward.
It is important to remember that no matter what industry you are in, we are in the people business so I also like to ask, “Is there someone you are looking to meet that I may be able to connect you with and do an introduction for you?” This is an opportunity to serve both them and someone else in your network as well.
Close Conversations With A Call to Action
I also love a call to action so whenever possible, I like to ask what their favorite social media platform is and where they like to hang out. Why? Because there is no sense in connecting to every person you meet on all the social media platforms when you can ask one question and find out where on social media they spend their time. This will save you time and may be a conversation point as well.
What is your favorite conversation starter? Share in the comments below and let’s continue the conversation.