Over the summer I’ve spoken to a load of business owners who either by choice, or enforced through childcare, have taken a bit of a break from their face to face networking.
I chose to carry on as I’m launching a load of stuff in the autumn and needed a run up to make sure everything launched successfully.
If you have had a bit of a hiatus, here are some tips which will help you to make sure your autumn networking has the best possible impact on your business.
- Have a plan. Where do you want to go networking? Which groups are you planning to be at over the next couple of months? Get your meetings in your diary now. That way you a) won’t get to the end of October and realise you still haven’t been out there and b) can plan other meetings and one to ones around your networking, using your time twice.
- Make sure that your plan involves you being there consistently, not just popping in because you have something to promote that week. You would be surprised how many times I’ve heard “I’ve not been here for six months but I’ve decided to come back this week as I have this event/special offer/autumn deal to promote”, which roughly translates as “I only come here when I want to sell to you”. It’s not a great message.
- Make sure your diary also includes time to arrive at the networking meeting early and be there for at least half an hour afterwards. That way you can fit in as many one to ones as you like and not be rushing off when your ideal prospect might just be waiting to speak to you.
- Prepare, rehearse and plan your 40/60 second introduction. What type of people do you want to attract to you when you’re out there? What message do you want to absolutely nail when you’re on your feet? Who do you want to ask you for a 121? Getting your message absolutely right and rehearsing it enough so that you feel confident when you stand up will make a huge difference to your success in networking. Winging it, I’m afraid, is not the way forward here.
- Remember that everyone else is there for the sake of their business too. Make sure your one to ones focus on their needs rather than just broadcasting what you have for sale. Finding out about the other guy’s business and actively listening to what they have to say is far more powerful than any pitch.
- Have a plan. Do you have a system in place to follow up after the networking meetings? Do you plan time into your diary to do just that? Have you made sure you follow up with every single person you meet? If you don’t already have a system to make sure your networking works, get one sorted.
- Remember that networking is not about just the one meeting. It doesn’t matter, at all, if it didn’t work out this time. Keep yourself out there and know that at networking you get a second chance to make a first impression.
Networking will work for you. You may have to revisit your approach every so often. You might need to learn the stuff which helps you to follow up using social media or the other methods I talk about. But making sure you know why you’re out there in the new season, and making a plan for how to achieve it, will help you massively.
Do keep in touch and let me know how your networking is working.
If you didn’t already know, I run a Facebook group with, currently, over 1300 business owners who want to network and learn about networking. If you’re not a member, you’ll be very welcome – https://www.facebook.com/groups/thenetworkingretreat/.