Before I give you my 3 Tips for Better Networking, let me say this: Giving out lots of business cards is NOT what is means to fully network with someone. Sure, it’s a great way to break the ice, at least in my opinion, but now what? How do you go about engaging in conversation when networking? Are you are good listener? How do you prepare yourself to network? What do you have to offer?
These are components that need to be considered before you network with anyone, especially on a professional level. You aren’t just walking up to folks, throwing them a business card, and speeding off and hoping that they will call you for something. It just doesn’t work that way. If this is your practice, you may want to reconsider your logic.
Here are some tips:
1) Create a 12 Second “Commercial” and Engage – Before stepping out into the business world, it’s a great idea to be able to properly communicate what you and your business are all about. Can you sum up what you do in 12 seconds? 12 seconds is a good amount of time to get your point across without boring your listener to tears. It also gives you ample time to give a clear, concise explanation of what you do. State your company, your title or position, and what it is that you do briefly. Use that time wisely! Articulate and be confident! Your confidence gives a fellow networker (or prospective client) confidence that you would be able to fully execute what you say that you can execute. Once you’ve spilled the beans, invite your listener to now do the same by saying: “So tell me what it is that you do.” Be interested and really listen. After you have both shared your “commercials”, spend a little time sharing professional accomplishments and goals. Also, converse about how you could possibly benefit from each others services. THEN you can hand off a business card. Create your “commercial” before heading to your next social or professional event!
2) Mixing Business and Pleasure (Not what you think, I promise. Read on!) – This tip is all about being more social and using that to your advantage professionally. How do you meet potential clients? You don’t have to wait for your next local networking event. If you happen to be out with friends, or at a social event, remember regardless of where you are, you are STILL a businessman or businesswoman. Even in a casual setting you can talk business, pass business cards and create contacts. I always have business cards handy, no matter what. Simple conversation can turn into a business connection. Honestly, I love creating contacts and booking clients at social events rather than professional ones. People like working with individuals who are personable and fun, and also capable. A relaxed, casual setting can help a potential client feel more at ease and comfortable. It’s also a lot easier to talk to someone in a more casual and social environment. The thing you have to remember is that there is a fine line between professionalism and being TOO comfortable in your setting. Always conduct yourself professionally, regardless of your surroundings.
3) FOLLOW UP! – I can’t stress enough how important the power of the Follow-up is! If you get a business card, EMAIL THEM! CALL THEM! You may not necessarily want to hire them for the service that they provide, but courtesy emails or calls are awesome and professional. Here’s an example email (and this is just a random selection of words that I am coming up with as I’m typing, but you can tweek it if you’d like.):
Hi (Enter name here),
It was so wonderful meeting you this morning! I know that our meeting was brief, but if you ever want to get together and really talk business or even plan a professional collaboration, do not hesitate to call or email! Please forward my information to anyone that you may come across who may need a makeup artist and I will be sure to pass along your information as well.
Thank you so much and I look forward to speaking with you again.
(contact information, website, etc)
Let them know that you are willing to support them if they support you. If they don’t respond, that’s ok. You can always follow up again at a later time.
I hope these tips help! What are some of your tips for networking? Please share!