Get out and meet your market.
Networking events can be a fruitful source of prospective clients and referral sources. Do you routinely attend networking events put on by chambers of commerce or industry organizations, referral groups and lead exchanges and professional organizations?
The general rules for networking are “target a few rather than many” and “give more to get more”.
“Target networking” helps you focus on those activities that are likely to be most fruitful for building your business. It’s more effective to be actively involved in a few groups than to be part of the crowd in many. Get to know people by spending quality time at the events – don’t just focus on “getting leads”.
Keep a mindset consistent with Emerson’s rule of compensation “give more to get more”. When you focus on making introductions, people will see you as a source of abundance and naturally want to help you. The opposite is true for those who are always “ready to pounce” – no one wants to tell them anything because they’re afraid they’ll be trapped into a long conversation with someone they have no interest in talking to.
Here’s a couple of tips for productive networking:
- Focus on the people you meet rather than yourself. Give them a chance to ask what you do, then respond conversationally.
- Always set a goal before you attend an event, and make them specific – for example, the number of follow-ups you want to schedule, the number of introductions you want to make.
- Don’t give people your business card unless there is a good reason to do so. Remember, your goal is to collect information, not distribute it.
- Focus on helping others. Ask people who they are hoping to meet, and do your best to make introductions.
- Take care not to spend too much time talking to people you already know, remember that you are there to network for prospective clients, not to socialize.
- Make sure you follow up with a phone call to the people you meet. It’s ok to say something like “I don’t remember everything we talked about, was there a specific reason we wanted to connect?”