Whether you are an entrepreneur or thinking of expanding your existing business, networking skills are pivotal to the success of your endeavor. Network-building will help you to expand your list of potential clients (contacts) that are extremely important for the improvement of your business.
A lot of people attempt make an attempt to connect, but they lack proper networking skills. If you belong to this category, here are simple tips to help you up your networking antics to boost your business.
· Networking is not a one-way street – This is one of the most important things to remember because networking has always been a two-way street. It is not only about letting the other person know about your business; you must also find out what the other person deals in. It is best to always start a conversation with the basics, such as name, company, affiliation and so on. Just like you have to break the ice when starting any conversation, the same applies here. Try establishing a familiarity before getting down to talking about hardcore business.
· Filter your list of contacts – There is absolutely no way that you can successfully network with everyone in your niche. So, what you can do is evaluate your contact list and filter through to find out who is worth establishing a relationship with. It is very simple, really. Just go through the names and ask yourself what they can offer you and if it is going to be beneficial to you. Another great way to filter your contacts is by thinking about their past actions. It is very important to network with people who can be trusted and has somewhat the same traits as you.
· Go out, meet and talk – There is no better way to network than face-to-face conversations. Of course, you can connect with influential people and prospects online, via social media channels, but talking has a different effect altogether. If possible, attend events and exhibitions that cater to your niche and you know you can meet people with the same interests as you. This always works because people are more relaxed in social settings and are also more open to talk and discuss about things. So, just meet people and strike up a random conversation. It is sure to turn out into something fruitful!
· Always vie for a second meeting – First meetings are always preliminary and that really says nothing. If the prospect is willing to meet up for a second meeting and talk some more, you know that you have hit the right chord. But, it is advisable that you keep the second meeting light – maybe talk over a cup of coffee or lunch. If you straightaway dive into figures, you might just appear a bit too desperate and the prospect could lose interest in your business, without even giving it a try.
· Make use of social media channels – As mentioned before, social media is a great place to connect with people who share similar interests, traits and vision. Make use of the social media networks to your advantage. From popular social media sites, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ or Twitter, you can gather Intel about any upcoming conference, event, roadshows, product launches or exhibitions. You can maybe attend it, if it in your city or town. This way, you will get an opportunity to surround yourself with people who share the same passion and hunger as you. Furthermore, social media allows you to engage in healthy debates, Q&As and so much more. Make use of such tools to grow your network and increase the chances of a successful and thriving business.
· Maintain relationships – This is probably one of the most important steps in business networking. You must maintain the relationships that you have built. If you do not nurture them, you can obviously not make use of them anymore and also, it might give you a bad reputation in the industry. You would not want that, right? A bad reputation is like an itch that refuses to disappear and even if it does, it keeps coming back. So, remember to always maintain the relationships that you have made.
A word of caution: keep re-evaluating your list to see that the contacts in your list are still as helpful and valuable as they were last year. If they are not, do not burn the bridges. Keep it cordial.
Now, go out and make use of your new found networking skills. Your business deserves it!