Not everyone was born to be a great networker. The first time any of us walked into a room of people who would be mostly strangers there was a sense of apprehension. It’s only natural. I’ve been speaking to a few people recently who have been networking for the first time and they have all been extremely nervous.
When working with them I shared my basic tips for how to network a room and what a great networker should do and so I thought I would share my tips with you too:
1. Make open groups
A great networker never stands in a closed group. There is always a gap in the cluster of people I am standing with so that there is an open side in which we can welcome someone in. Be aware of when you are standing in a group and if you want to be welcoming make sure someone can join you.
2. Have their networking tools with them
What are your networking tools? A name badge, business cards, pen & paper. A great networker never attends an event without them. You may even wish to keep a box of spares in the car for when you have changed suits or carry a different handbag.
3. Set a goal for their networking activities
Networking as part of a referral marketing plan is a key element to the strategy. To have the right mindset for going networking you need to set an outcome or a goal of what you wish to achieve for each event. This might be just to do some research, it might be to make 5 new contacts. Whatever your intention is for the networking event make sure you have it planned.
4. Be a host when networking
Ask yourself this question. Would you act differently if you were hosting an event rather than being a passive guest? Think about how you would act if you were the host. When networking, look out for people that are unsure or don’t know anyone. Introduce people to each other and watch what is happening. You will find you will develop excellent networking skills and get great exposure to other people in the room.
5. Listen and ask questions
There is a famous phrase of “You have one mouth and two ears – use them in proportion!” This is very true when networking. Ask questions and listen to the answers to help shape and guide the conversation. If you find that you are doing too much of the talking switch over and start asking more questions. In doing this you will find out a lot more about each other.
6. Be able to describe their product & service
Can you succinctly describe your products and service when someone asks you the question “So tell me, what do you do?”. Are you able to give them a great answer and avoid launching in and telling them everything you do? Great networkers do this with an “I help” statement. “I help business owners create an amazing business and a spectacular life through a referral marketing strategy”. Guess what, it leads to further questions and creating a conversation.
7. Follow Up
There are those that spend hours networking and making new connections and fail at networking because they don’t follow up. Good follow up is the lifeblood of networking. If you say you are going to get in touch, then make sure you do. Set time aside in your diary after the networking activity or during the week to do your follow up.
And the secret thing that great networkers do? Take someone with them when networking! It is always better if there are two of you. So next time you are going to a networking event get on the phone and speak to someone you know and see if they will go with you. You can introduce each other to people and speak to twice as many people. Just don’t’ spend all your time together!
I hope that you’ve enjoyed these tips. If you would love to learn more and have a conversation with me about creating a referral marketing plan or how to network more effectively then give me a call or drop me an email.