Networking is a proven sales tool and it is contrary to schmoozing. Do you know the true definition for Networking? Is it?
a) specialized fishing apparatus -noun
b) act of making hair nets -verb
c) learned skill to increase business contacts -verb
If you chose c) you are correct! You will see this if you Google the word - network:
1. a supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups having a common interest: Working mothers in the community use networking to help themselves manage successfully.
As mentioned in a previous article, Selling with Social Media, - networking is one strategy used in a variety of marketing plans where social media sites play a significant role.
There is 'social networking' and there is 'networking for business'. Many try to combine the two but ideally they should be kept separate.
Any true professional sales or marketing person will research suitable events, clubs and associations and identify those which would enable them to meet other business professionals. These 'other' business professionals will constitute your support system and encourage business opportunities between you.
Learn to cultivate your network and if done properly, you will receive referrals to and from others who will help increase your community presence and enhance your business profile.
Part of your success at networking for business will be an ability to maintain a consistent presence at events. When you attend a business function, you should have a defined purpose and set goals for meeting new people. It takes practice but the more experience you acquire the easier it will become for you to work the room. Watch others first and go with an experienced colleague. Set a goal of meeting 3-5 new people each time.
Here are 7 easy steps to follow:
- Scan the room for new faces
- Establish eye contact with a potential new face
- Approach with confidence and smile while maintaining eye contact
- Greet with a solid handshake and a strong introduction that includes your name and company
- Use your interpersonal communication skills to ask open questions that will determine their interest and yours for continuing the encounter
- Offer to exchange business cards or contact information
- Most importantly, do not overstay your welcome with this initial meeting
There are a variety of strategies you can use to help you master each one of the above 7 steps. After all, its not easy putting yourself out there to meet strangers in a room full of suits.
Still have questions? Feel free to contact me in person via email to [email protected] or telephone me at 604.984.7445 and Ill help fill in the blanks.