Network Like a Pro and Grow Your Business
Believe it or not, everybody needs to be networking. Even tradesmen. Sure, your customers will hopefully refer you to others and that’s terrific. But in between those nice referrals, you’ve got to make connections among people who might be able to introduce you to prospective customers. Where do you begin? Especially if you dread the idea of networking with others?
Start here with these 5 tips:
1) Don’t be entirely out for yourself
“Huh? What am I here for if not for my own business?” We get that. But if you walk into a room full of peers and start talking about you, you and you, there won’t be much allowed for others to get a word in. Instead, approach the situation like you’re looking to get to know people. You want to understand what makes them and their business unique. You want to learn more so you can help them. You want to appear giving rather than taking. That’s a great way to start off with a strong first impression.
2) What’s your story? Tell it well.
So many people mention what they do and leave it at that. Kind of boring, isn’t it? But an interesting story that might illustrate your services could keep the conversation going in your favor. If you transformed a bathroom tub, how did you do it? How much money did you save the homeowner? What are some big jobs you’ve had to tackle? This could lead to more questions about the kind of work you do and for whom – which could inspire the person you’re speaking with to think of someone worth introducing you to.
3) See everyone in the room as an opportunity
“Eh, they probably won’t know anybody who might need me.” How do you know? Why jump to that conclusion before getting to know them better? Don’t judge a person on the surface based on their line of work. This is where asking questions could make a big difference, such as the kind of people they interact with, other circles they spend time in and more. You never know what relationships they might have that aren’t obvious to you right away. That’s the beauty of networking.
4) Keep your antennae up at all times
Naturally, you want people to remember important things about your business – well, shouldn’t you do the same for them? Listening is an underrated trait but if you master it, you can begin to pick up key things said in the conversation that someone else said to you earlier in the event, which leads to an opportunity to connect two people if they haven’t met already. This shows you’re taking an interest in their business beyond your own gain, which hopefully encourages others to turn around and do the very same for you. It’s not easy to refer business to someone who’s nothing more than a “taker.” It’s always easier to refer to a “giver.”
5) What are you doing in the next couple days? Following up.
Look back on those business cards the next day – or even that same day or evening if it helps. Who did you talk to? Did you speak to them about getting together for coffee for a one-on-one or arranging a quick phone call? No matter what your “next step” with these folks looks like, remember to do it and do it sooner rather than later while the connection is still fresh in their mind too. You don't want to try and jog their memory a month later. And if you said you’d do something on their behalf, such as making an introduction, follow through with that while you’re still thinking about it!