The art of networking
Spoiler alert – it’s not just about handing out business cards.
Sway sellers who are sitting on the fence and encourage positive word of mouth with our top networking tips:
1. Create a list of important people
That could be anyone from industry leaders to vendors you’ve already interacted with. Importantly, they don’t have to be people you’ve encountered in person – digital networking is only going to get bigger and better as we all spend more time glued to devices.
2. Initiate contact
If this is a new networking opportunity, you’ll need to start the relationship on the right foot. Here are two common scenarios:
At networking events:
These are great – everyone attending is looking for useful connections. But there’s a knack to getting the most out of networking events:
- Prepare: on top of who you want to talk to, know what you want to say. Practice an elevator pitch of your personal brand, highlighting your skills and experience.
- Be approachable: turn your phone on silent and pop it in your pocket. Really be present.
- Ask questions: this makes it obvious you’ve paid attention, and are interested in what the other person has to say. Networking shouldn’t be a one way communication. People love to talk about themselves and you’ll find that if you ask questions and listen, it will be easier to add value to the conversation.
- Listen well: you’re more likely to form meaningful connections if both parties feel they got their message across. The most valuable information is often gained by simply listening. They’re also more likely to walk away from the conversation feeling really positive about the experience.
- Exchange contact details: if the conversation was useful, suggest you exchange contact details. This could be email addresses, phone numbers or business cards.
Email is a hugely effective medium for growing your prospect database. Just remember to:
- Use a great subject line: avoid sounding spammy, but ensure you get their attention. A great example would be: “Following up on X event”.
- Be personal: you’re trying to build bridges, so friendliness is key. Make sure to use their name – ‘To whom it may concern’ ticks no boxes.
- Provide context: jog their memory by reminding them how you met. If you haven’t met, make it clear why and how you’re contacting them – for example, if a colleague gave you their details.
- Show an interest: let them know you're aware of who they are and what they do. While you don’t want to grovel, who doesn’t love a bit of well placed flattery?
- Be concise: get to the point. After you’ve done the above, let them know why you’re reaching out.
3. Add value to your network
If your promotion area is largely family based, doing something for the community like sponsoring a school event will go far. If your prospects are investors or city professionals, you could host a seminar at your office on the current state of the market.
The key is to add genuine value where possible, with relevant communication. Do this, and you’ll have a significant point of difference.
4. Stay in touch
Today, there’s no excuse for losing touch with valuable networking contacts. We’ve all got a phone on us 24/7, and email and social media make things even easier. While you shouldn’t pester anyone, keep the wheels turning when appropriate.
5. Show appreciation
Make sure you ask new clients how they found you. You’ll not only find out what forms of marketing work best, but it will also let you know who to thank for referrals. A thank you card or a small gift to the person who referred you always goes a long way to further influence positive word of mouth.
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