With the rise of social networking going out and meeting people seems to be second to building a online presence. But building your network and maintaining existing contacts is vital, with it you will gain introductions and, ultimately, work opportunities.
The key to networking though is taking the initiative and persistence. Networking is the best way to retain and develop business and to create a network of valuable contacts. Social media, for all its values does not replace personal interaction and conversation. A conversation in a relaxed environment can often create opportunities and develop your profile more effectively than having a discussion with someone on Twitter or Facebook.
Networking needs to be adopted as a way of life and results are unlikely to be instant. It needs to be worked at and following up people that you meet is essential. It is important to remember that while the person that you are talking to may not give you business, they may know someone who will be able to use your service or product. Most importantly remaining aware of where there might be opportunities for others is very potent and will encourage others to look out for opportunities for you.
Our top tips for successful networking are:
- Stay in touch with people you like and respect even if they can’t help you immediately. You don’t want to go to someone only when you are desperate.
- Talk to people you don’t know everywhere you go. Parties and weddings are just the tip of the iceberg; don’t forget about airplane rides, supermarket lines, sporting events, festivals, bookstores and so on.
- Learn to ask “What do you do?” with comfort, sincerity and interest.
- Become a better listener. Ask a question and then be quiet until you hear the answer, in general people enjoy being heard and just listening to them for 30 mins could be the highlight of their day.
- Practice your own presentation of your skills. Learn more than one approach, whether frank or subtle.
- Keep a business card on you at all times. Get comfortable handing out your card, but make sure all the information is 100% correct. It is embarrassing to try and get in contact with someone and find you have the wrong contact details.
- Take classes to improve your public speaking, body language and writing skills.
- Join every networking club and association in your field. Even at an additional cost a business would prefer to work with someone local as any problems can be quickly resolved.
- Follow up on any lead, no matter how minor. You never know who knows who and any connection can lead to more business through the grapevine.
- Your existing clients are your best source of referrals. Don’t be afraid to ask them to be your ambassadors.
Follow these 10 tips and even if you do not see immediate results they will eventually come and make your business more successful.
By 888 Bonus