In my last newsletter I shared some tips on how to give (and get) a great referral. Today we’re going to focus on how to build and maintain a thriving network of people you can refer to and be referred by.
Now I realize that “networking” is not something most of us get excited about. But I’ve come to realize that, like everything else, it’s something of an art form and once you ‘get’ the new rules and find your tribe, it’s actually really worthwhile and even fun (really!)
Modern networking is build around starting conversations (that go both ways…imagine that!), forming authentic relationships and focusing on giving, rather than getting. The great thing about this type of networking is that you can be yourself, release any negative emotions around ‘selling’ and feel great when you connect with someone who has a genuine need for your services or knows someone else who does. This is not about short-term gain, but building your relationships and your reputation, little by little. It takes time, but the pay off it truly worth it.
These 20 tips will help you master the art of networking in no time:
- Adopt an attitude of “what can I do for you?” rather than “what can you do for me?”
- Have business cards (and use them judiciously)
- Know your elevator pitch
- Know your ideal client profile
- Make eye contact
- Be genuine
- Bring your whole self to the event. If you’re a mum, there’s no need to hide that fact. (It’s also not an excuse to talk about your kids all night, or whip out the photo album!)
- Don’t be shy about sharing ‘non-professional’ things. You might find that the person you’re speaking with also has a passion for skydiving.
- Be interesting
- Be interested
- Be gracious. No looking over a person’s shoulder to see if someone more interesting arrived
- If you see someone who’s alone, invite him/her to join your conversation
- Be succinct. Interactions should be short and sweet
- Don’t monopolize someone (or let them monopolize you). I find that in either situation, simply saying “I don’t want to hog you all night, it’s been great meeting you” will do the trick.
- Be OK with being uncomfortable. It’s a rare person who can walk into a room full of strangers and be totally at ease.
- Be kind to yourself. Sometimes it goes better than others and that’s OK
- Dress the part
- Smile, Smile, Smile
- Pay attention to your posture. Shoulders back, chin up and make sure nothing’s crossed
- Shake hands when you introduce yourself and again when you exit saying ‘it was nice meeting you’ (sounds basic, but lots of people don’t do it!)
Not sure how to find a networking event that’s right for you. Here are a few that I’m loving at the moment:
Savor the Success – this is a fabulous venue if you’re a female entrepreneur. Their motto is ‘Give, give, get’ and the members really do work that way. If you need someone to give you feedback on an idea, share a resource, or just be there to support you, it’s a great place to be. Check Savor out here.
In Good Company – there are heaps of classes, workshops and events at this co-working space. All are free to members, but non-members are welcome to join workshops for a very reasonable fee. You can see all upcoming events on their website.
Running With Heels
Founded by spit-fire, Jenny Powers, Running with Heels lunches and dinners are fun, informative and relaxed. Based upon what you do, you’re assigned at a table with 5 or so other entrepreneurs and you move to a new table with each course. There’s also a great speaker for each event and I always leave inspired to try something new. For upcoming events, click here.
Sometimes all we need is ONE good event to get us started. So if you’re a member of a group or association you particularly like, please leave a comment below and help a fellow entrepreneur get out there!