Have you noticed that there is no shortage of networking events to attend? How do you decide which ones to attend? Have you attended lots of different events and then move on to something else because you didn’t get any business or because there were two or three people there who do what you do?
It is my theory that you can get business from any group if you work it consistently and follow the rules.
It’s Not About You
First, it’s not about you! Did you hear that? Can you go to the bank and draw out money before you make a deposit? It’s the same with networking. You can’t walk up to someone, hand them a card and expect to receive referrals. How many times have I heard someone say that they are quitting a group because they didn’t get any referrals? I’ve also heard others say, “I’ve been coming here for three years and have never gotten a referral.” My question is “Have you ever given one?”
Do you mingle? By that I don’t mean walking up to someone, giving them a card and proceeding to tell them what you do. I mean that you start asking questions about them and what they do. If you ask them first, they will ask you.
Get Together for a “One on One”
Exchange business cards and suggest the two of you get together for a “one on one” in the next week or two. I like to set the appointment then rather than calling or emailing later; although, either works. By setting the appointment you can then set other appointments around this one. In other words, you won’t overbook. Also, you don’t get busy and forget or lose their card. If you don’t set the appointment then, don’t wait for them to contact you; contact them.
When you meet with them pay attention to them and really take an interest in what they do. Remember, it’s about them at this point, not about you. As they talk, mentally go through your list of acquaintances to see if there is someone you can introduce them to that could be a mutually advantageous benefit. For example, I recently met with a new chiropractor in our community. As I listened to his story about his business, I remembered that I knew a massage therapist who specializes in children as did the chiropractor, and I knew the massage therapist had recently lost an associate and was looking for a replacement. I connected the two businesses, and they have started a new beneficial relationship. I also introduced the chiropractor to someone who sold essential oils. After that, I showed a sample of my work with them.
When it is your turn to talk about your business, tell stories. Remember, facts tell, and stories sell! If you are new in your business, borrow stories from someone else.
Networking can either be a fun part of running your business or it can be a painful experience, and it’s up to you to decide. Choose a group where you will consistently meet new people and attend as regularly as possible. Don’t count how many referrals or opportunities you get but how many you give.