Being a successful entrepreneur isn’t easy, and it can be especially difficult for those without a large number of personal contacts. Very often, it’s not what you know, but about whom you know.
Networking is one of the crucial skills any Business Owner, Entrepreneur or Network Marketer needs to have. How else will you meet new people and clients necessary to grow your business?
A lot of people think that you have to be born to become a good networker, need to have an outgoing personality, be friendly, a good listener and one who stays in touch with people.
Many people go to networking events, but very few know how to network effectively. Networking is more than just getting out and meeting people. Networking should have a structured plan to get to know people who might do business with you or introduce you to those who will.
Effective networking requires expanding your comfort zone and to challenge yourself.
9 Tips on How to Become a good Networker
Set a goal
Set a goal for what to expect from each meeting, venue or networking event. Of course your goals can vary. Your goal could be to meet two or three new people at each event. Whenever you are at a venue go straight to people you don’t know. If you don’t make this a habit, you naturally will only speak with the people you already know.
Don’t sit with people you know
Lunch or dinner parties are a great opportunity for meeting new people. But careful – you may be stuck in that chair for several hours during the meal, so don’t limit your chances by sitting with your friends. Usually the time before the meal is the time to mingle. During the meal it’s a great opportunity to get to know new people on either side of you. Of course it would be more comfortable to chat with familiar faces. On the other hand, you are spending precious time to attend these events. Talk to your friends some other time.
Some people make networking seem complicated. In reality building your network is about interacting with other human beings. It is relationship based, not a sales product. This is especially true in Network Marketing. You are not trying to sell these people anything – especially not the first time you meet them. Remember that you want these people to like you and not buy a car, a new TV or any other product or service from you.
Try one or two new groups per month
You can attend almost any organization’s meetings a few times before you have to join. This is another way to make new contacts. Find out what business organizations and/or fun activities interest you most.
This could be an outdoor or hiking group, different Meet ups in your area or join Internations, which is an internationally active expat meeting and networking organization.
Create a list of people to contact
In network marketing we know about the value of a contact list, how to build one and maintain it updated. Very often, we don’t network on purpose. We talk to the people around us instead of going out and find someone new. We give a few close friends a call instead of reaching out to someone we haven’t talked to for a while. Usually we do the easy stuff and then we talk to new people when it’s convenient.
After meeting someone it’s a good idea to take a few notes. Try to remember small details of what the other person shared with you. Remembering simple things like what they like to eat or where they would like to go on holiday can become important in later interactions.
Follow up with the people you have met
At networking events you might meet several people. Make sure to take some time afterwards to follow up with everyone a day or two after the event.
A quick follow up email, or even better, a phone call, shows that you valued meeting them. This is also the perfect opportunity to start building a relation.
You never know how some of these relationships will benefit yourself or your business at a later point. Making the extra effort is definitely worth it.
Be friendly and approachable
Make people around you feel welcome. Find out what brought them there, and see if there’s anything you can help them with. Introduce them to others, share your own contacts with them or give them a referral. Most likely you will make a friend. If you make the effort to help others, you will soon find people helping you.
Give value for free
Most people at networking events are pretty selfish looking for things that further their own careers and companies. There is nothing that these people want more than free resources. Why not starting to provide others with value; for free?
It’s in everyone’s best interest to build a strong network, but that does not mean you need to do the same than anyone else.
Networking is a two-way road. Don’t expect new contacts to provide you with lots of referrals and business unless you are doing the same. You have to be willing to give if you expect to receive, so try to provide some sort of value to everyone you meet. This can be an advice in an area of your experience or expertise. It does not take much effort to do this, and you might not know what you get in return.
Don’t forget to smile! Too many people forget this when networking. If you are not having fun in the process, and building relationships with people you actually enjoy spending time with, you might have the wrong approach. People like to hang out with people who are smiling and having a great time. When you enjoy yourself, you become a human magnet, attracting the same kind of energy. Just try it – a smile doesn’t cost you anything!