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Top 10 tips to network your business to the next level

Top 10 tips to network your business to the next level

Last month’s article Why Networking Is Your Most Powerful Business Tool generated quite a bit of discussion on social media (thank you to those who shared their thoughts.)

This month we look at my Top 10 tips to network your business to the next level so you can make the most of your networking experience.

1. Find the most appropriate networking meetings for your business

It might sound obvious but there is no shortage of meetings to attend (check out Facebook and LinkedIn groups, and Meetup as a start) but you’ll get the most out of networking if you’re selective about the meetings you go to. A bit like dating, you may have to try a few meetings before you find the best ones for you.

Before you go make sure the event matches your business profile by looking at their website, talk to network members and decide if it’s aimed at your kind of business.

2. Make the right connections

Your goal should be two-fold here. You want to help others, and also find people who can directly grow your business or introduce people to you. Remember, the person you’re speaking to might not be relevant for what you do, but they might know someone who is!

3. Make an impression

Be clear about what you’re offering and what you’re looking for, from business partners and customers. Hone your “elevator” pitch so you can give a brief summary – 30 seconds max – of what you do and how you help others.

4. Be a good listener

Ask others how you can help and what sort of contacts they’re looking for, and then LISTEN. Focus on who you know, who you could connect people to, or how you can help them. This should take precedence over pitching your own business.

By being a good listener you’ll get great feedback from your market and find out what’s happening in your industry and what the trends are. You’ll also get some unexpectedly great ideas, often from someone in an unrelated business who you happen to be chatting to.

5. Set clear goals for your networking

Are you working hard to find new customers, establish new business partnerships or find a Joint Venture partner? Perhaps your goal is to grow your business connections by 100 meaningful connections by the end of the year. Or to find some business partners for a new venture.

6. Be authentic and have a genuine desire to help others

This is critical. It’s not about you;  it’s what you can do for others.  Build trusting and lasting relationships and your business will really take off.

7. Always take business cards

Another obvious sounding tip but only about 50% of the people I meet at networking meetings have a card. To be memorable and contactable you must have a card with your contact details on and, ideally, a snappy one-liner about what you do and how you help people. Make this as benefit-focused as you can.

Many places offer cheap business cards, such as Vistaprint. An added bonus is that you’ll be able to enter the prize draw and might even win a prize!

8. Talk to as many people as possible

Ask others what they’re struggling with and how you can help. In turn, you’ll find answers to challenges you’ve been struggling with. Your goal is not to try to build deep and meaningful relationships at the first meeting, but to establish some common ground and potential synergy.

9. Follow-up

It sounds trite but this is one of the most powerful networking secrets. 90% of people you meet will never follow-up. So be one of the 10% who does what they say, and get in touch after the meeting. That alone will make you stand out.

10. Don’t collect cards just to build a mailing list

If that sounds self-defeating, think about the quality of your relationships and not the quantity. 100 actively engaged customers are far more valuable than 1,000 unresponsive people on a list who never open your emails or buy from you.

Those are my top tips for boosting your business through networking. Do you have others?

 

Share this article if you found it useful! And leave a comment in the box below. We hope to connect with you soon.

About Cassie Hicks Kerr

Cassie is a mother, real estate investor, online entrepreneur, author and speaker. Through Modern Marketing Spark “MMSpark” she helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses using savvy online marketing and social media. Cassie is offering a free Google Plus Quick Start Guide: 10 Awesome Ways to Build Your Business on Google Plus so don't forget to grab your free copy. You can connect with Cassie via the icons below!

5 comments

  1. Great tips @cassie I will try to follow, thanks for sharing :)

  2. Solid advice,I myself have come to some similar principles with the ones mentioned above.Its nice to see others come to the same conclusion as me.
    It just validates my way of thinking that much more.

  3. These are great tips. The number of times I’ve been to a meeting and forgotten to take any business cards!

  4. Great tips, and most I do and have learned over time. However, it’s good to be reminded of them, and actually…I never set annual goals for networking, just per meeting or per month. I like the idea of looking at a longer time period.

    It’s also good to stay flexible, and not focus too much on your goals when you are there. Just wondered if you have any tips on how to keep in touch after the first biz card exchange, perhaps a follow-up chat, connect on Linked-In and then…unless I actually start a project with someone, these things then tend to peter out.

    • Here are my suggested actions to keep in touch with good new contacts made through business networking.

      Tips on How to Build Profitable Relationships from Your New Contacts.

      1. When you first meet someone at a business networking event, the golden rule is to discover their needs and challenges; it’s about them, not you. Don’t sell. Find out how you can help them. Build foundations for relationships, don’t expect to move into the house straight away.

      2. To follow up consider:
      a) Responding to their need for help in the best way you can, regardless of what you want to provide. If you have put 2-3 hours into meeting people at the networking event, an extra hour or less must be a good investment of your time.
      b) Putting them in touch with someone you know who can really help them.
      c) Suggesting a follow up telephone or Skype “get to know you better” call; or a “Buddy Call” if you think the chemistry is right.

      3. Take their contact details and agree how you will follow up. Make an immediate note unless you have an amazing memory!

      4. Follow up EXACTLY as promised; this is tricky bit – it is easily and often forgotten under other pressures, but it is what will make you stand out from the crowd as being reliable, committed and trustworthy. It is at this point that you will start building relationships.

      5. Strengthen and build your network through qualified referrals – use the people you know and trust to help your new contact with their particular challenge. This requires thought and effort to work well; your new contact should expect the call from your supplier and that person must be prepared to follow up quickly. Being clear about this to both parties will make your network uniquely profitable for all concerned.

      6. You may suggest a “buddy” call when you first meet; think of it as a form of free, two way coaching or mentoring enabling both parties to discuss their challenges in a confidential and no obligation environment. A one-hour call could fast track a unique and lasting relationship.

      7. Agree at the outset what each of you want from the Buddy Call; here is my suggested template. http://the-new-investor.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Buddy-Call-Guidelines.pdf

      8. Schedule follow up contact using Skype video if possible instead of the telephone and plan the “meeting” seriously as if you were scheduling a personal 1-2-1.

      9. Finally, make sure you have a properly managed List and, if you have agreed to keep in contact, add your new contact to it and work out the best way to communicate from time to time giving great value. Here is one simple, no-cost tip if you are in the habit of shuffling your business contact cards into desk drawers. http://the-new-investor.com/mailchimp/

      10. Giving great value to your List ………

      ……..Ideas Please.

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