Do you know the number one reason most people hate networking?
They’re not very good at it.
And that’s OK, most people aren’t born networkers. But what the ALL successful people have figured out is how to get in the same room as the people who help them build a better business.
Networking, like everything else, is an art-form that needs to be practiced before it becomes fun and gets results.
Now, I’m not out networking every night of the week, or even every week of the month. But I am pretty-good at getting results from the events I do attend.
Is it because I’m upbeat, will talk to almost anyone, and a redhead?
No (even though none of those hurt), it’s because I’ve learned what works, what doesn’t, and how to give and get value from every event I attend.
And I know, with a little coaching, you can do that too, chatty red head or not!
This post is not about a few easy, breezy networking do’s and don’ts, but rather a dose of good old fashioned strategic thinking and planning. Just like everything else in life (everything that’s successful, anyway), good networking starts with a good strategy.
This alone will save you tons of time, reduce the aggravation you feel after attending yet another crappy event, and dramatically improve the results you get in your creative business.
Let’s break it down that strategy into steps.
1) Establish goals and expectations
Why do you want to network? If it’s because everyone says you should, you’re missing the point. Just as I don’t do Snapchat, just because everyone else does (though never say never!), you should never do anything in your business because someone else does.
Here are few questions to consider. Are you looking to:
- Find creative collaborators
- Get new clients
- Get the word out about a new product or service
- Find new vendors
- Build strategic alliances?
You might be looking to do one or two, or all, of the above, but know that one event probably won’t cover them all. I’ll give you an example: If you’re looking to adjust your positioning from freelance graphic designer to small design firm, you might be looking for creative collaborators you can pitch as part of your team and bring on to projects as you need them. In that case, going to events where other creatives hang out, such as this one, would be a great choice.
But if you’re looking to find new clients and you’ve established that food industry clients are your niche, events held at culinary institutes, or book launches for the latest celebrity chef cook book would be a great option.
2) Know who your ideal client is
As many of you know, this is one of my favorite steps in the process of building a better business, for the simple reason that life is a whole lot easier, and more fun, when you’re working with like-minded people. And while it does take some time and effort to get really clear on who your ideal client is, it’s not that hard. Ready to get that clarity? Download my free guide How to Find High-Quality Clients and Get Paid What You’re Worth and do step 2.
3) Know what you do and the problems you solve
If you’ve done step two of my free guide (you have, right?), you now know who your ideal clients are and are about to learn a game-changing communication strategy:
Make your approach and message about the other person, not you.
In our discomfort, we often try to get out what we do as quickly as possible, inadvertently making the conversation about us, not at all about the listener. But when you frame what you offer within the context of their situation and their needs, you create an opportunity to learn more about their business, build trust, and start a relationship. You also completely side-step the pitfall of being that pushy guy or girl that we’re all trying so hard not to be.
So, you see how a little strategy can go a long way towards setting you up for genuine encounters that benefit all involved?
Are you ready to build upon this strategy and start intentionally building your network and growing your creative business? I’ll be sharing some simple, yet profoundly effective, tools that will help you find, and get the most out of the best events for you and your creative business.
Join me and Spark Design Professionals next Tuesday, May 16th, and learn how to craft and deliver a non-elevator pitch (because you’re too cool for one of those!), how to find the right events for you, and networking etiquette (because I am British after all).
Spark Design Professionals and Justine Clay present: How to Maximize Networking Opportunities and Grow Your Business
Date: Tuesday, May 16th
Place: Arts Building
529 W 20th Street, #8E
New York, NY 10011
Time: 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm
Just click here to get your ticket.
I can’t wait to see you there!