The right connections can bring you new business opportunities. It takes time but, if you make it a priority to grow your network and build long-lasting professional relationships, you will be amazed by the results.
Here are my five best hacks, to benefit every business leader.
[Tweet “When #networking you want to think of quality, not quantity. #BizTips”]
1. Have clear goals
My networking goal is to meet people who can be a referral source. I set a goal to have four solid referral sources by the end of the first quarter. That is a clear straight forward goal. There is never enough time so having clear goals is essential. It helps you prioritize your activity.
When networking you want to think of quality, not quantity. Be strategic about your networking. Make sure that your target audience will be attending the event before heading out. Make sure you write out your goals and be specific. Whether that is to connect with a top influencer or speaker or to reconnect with an old customer. Here’s an example of a networking focus to help me meet my goal:
I’m attending the Nevada CPA Luncheon to meet accountants who can be a referral source. I will find at least 4 accountants that I will schedule to meet with after the event and learn about their practice and detemine if a relationship could be mutually beneficial.
2. Develop a networking strategy that supports your goals
Your strategy needs to encompass what you do before, during and after the event. Learn about the networking event that you will be attending. See if you can connect with the attendees on twitter and LinkedIn.
For example, before the event, I would connect on twitter by following and send a tweet that says:
During the event be sure to get introduced to the people you want to meet. You can always ask a member to meet you at the registration desk and introduce you to the other members.
After the event follow up in a thoughtful and timely manner. Use the phone, mail, email and social media. Schedule to meet with the people you see potential in having a relationship with.
3. Get introduced to those you want to meet even when you don’t know anyone at the event
It’s important that you don’t waste time at an event. Figure out in advance who you want to meet. Call the event organizer ahead of time and ask if they would arrange an introduction during the event and/or connect on social media and send a message asking to meet at the event.
4. Ask questions that help you develop a relationship
I read a great article by Chris Colin and Rob Baedekar titled “How to Turn Small Talk into Smart Conversation”. The idea behind the article is to ask for stories, not answers. By asking the right questions you develop a stronger relationship with the person you are connecting to, and as a result, you will have a stronger network to reach out to.
Here are a few examples they mentioned:
|“How was your day?”||“What’s the most interesting thing that happened at work today”|
|“Where are you from?”||“What’s the strangest thing about where you grew up?”|
|“What line of work are you in?”||“How’d you chose your line of work?”|
The idea is to get them talking, be a great listener and relate to what they are saying. – Instead of talking about yourself. Get them to tell you their story.
5. Share an engaging message that leaves them wanting to hear more
If they do ask you a question, try to answer with a short story or message that is engaging.
Here’s an example:
“I work with business owners who want to increase sales. In fact, yesterday I helped the owner of an IT company close a large deal that had been stalled for weeks.”
Even your follow up message should be engaging. Here is an example of a message that I would send to someone on LinkedIn after meeting them at a networking event.
Want more valuable connections?
Getting connected to the right people to advance your career, find resources, connect with investors or prospects to help your business grow is essential. Please leave a comment with your best networking hacks.
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