For anyone in business in the Fair Oaks area, there are numerous opportunities to network - a common, viable source of new connections that can lead to more business for you. But there is a big difference between networking and networking well. Let’s assume you know about the various groups in which you may network – the Chamber of Commerce, chapters of BNI and LeTip, service organizations such as Rotary International, and the newly formed Sacramento Area Business Connection – and let’s go directly to my 5 Keys to Success When Networking.
- Prepare. Bring plenty of business cards and your calendar to any networking event. Just remember, a trip to the grocery store, post office, and a restaurant – any time you leave your home – could be your next networking event!
- Define your objective, which is always to leave with a “follow up date” on your calendar for __ number of people you meet at the event. I want to leave with 3 follow up dates for every ½ hour I spend at an event.
- Listen carefully to determine the potential of a future relationship. Someone who could share a client is a “Power Partner.” This individual is your most desired reward when networking. Ex.: If you are a realtor, a Power Partner might be a loan officer, a relocation expert/manager, or a remodeler/handyman. If you’re an insurance agent, a Power Partner could be an auto body shop owner, a financial planner or a property manager. Make a list of potential Power Partners for your occupation. Ask if there are any at each event you attend, and introduce yourself.
- Most important, you must be a person who is sincerely interested in what others have to say. You can decide to be this way. Sincere interest – asking questions about them and their business, listening to what they share with you, inviting them to tell you know how you might help them - these are the actions of a sincerely interested individual.
- Be creative! Not everyone you meet will be an obvious Power Partner. More often than not, you’ll have to imagine ways to allow the connection to generate referrals. This is one of the aspects of networking that’s challenging and fun. “Do I know anyone who might use his or her service or product?” But before you recommend anyone, you better be sure about his or her character. That’s why your next step is always a follow up date, so you can learn more about the individual and their values, even to the point of getting some references.
Give these 5 Keys To Success a try the next time you attend a networking event.
From the Coach’s Box:
Networking in today’s world can be overdone. It seems like there are meetings and mixers every day of the month. Be discerning when choosing events. You want friendly, welcoming people, not cliques, and some events are specifically billed as networking, so everyone understands networking is the basic objective. These are the good ones! How can you know beforehand? Ask others if they network, and what works best for them. There are excellent networkers everywhere! Get to know them. Ask them how they do it.
And, of course, use the 5 Keys To Success When Networking, and let me know how it went.