If you network as part of your business then this post is for you. Without very much effort, you can find a networking event to attend every day of the week at any time of day. Some events have an education element as a bonus but barring that, the primary purpose of the event is to meet new people who will help you accomplish one goal.
When you walk in the door of an event you share a common goal with every other person there. That commonality is likely the desire for more business. Sound crass? Maybe, but it’s true. People who don’t need more business don’t spend significant amounts of time networking.
How this business eventually flows in may be different from person to person. The person in transition looking for a job wants business in the form of a job. The recruiter wants new hires or new students which will result in more business for themselves or their organization. The widget salesperson wants to sell more widgets and get more revenue in the form of commission. The speaker wants new engagements which ultimately will result in an increased bottom line.
With that assumption accepted, every single networker starts on an even playing field. The other typical commonality is that at the start of the event there are people in the room whom the networker does not know.
So the starting point is not knowing people and the ending point is more money in the bank. Dealing with the starting point is easy. If you don’t know someone, you step up and introduce yourself. They introduce themselves and bam, now you know each other. You don’t know each other well, but more than you did ten seconds ago.
Now, how you get from just knowing this person to a mutually beneficial relationship? That chasm seems huge. Or does it?
First, accept that every person in the room already knows you want more business. Doing so will put you in a very different and powerful frame of mind. You’ll no longer be desperate to be interesting and compelling as you explain your needs while trying to “win over” this new acquaintance. They already know that they could be the person who will help you get business and likewise, they know that you could be the person who does the same for them.
With that out of the way, you can start being genuinely interested in people for their own sake. You can ask questions and get to know them as a person. Explore things you have in common or find out what they like to do for fun. Start building a relationship. Everyone knows that people do business with people they know, like and trust. Behave in a way that fosters likeability and builds trust.
Learn How to Be a Great Networker
As a business owner I’ve networked over hundreds of coffees, breakfasts, lunches, dinners, happy hours and workshops. This much time spent networking can kill productivity if it’s done poorly. To show the right way to go about it, I developed a presentation called Don’t Be an Atrocious Networker!
It’s a fun, interactive, content-rich program that shares the tools everyone needs to make networking productive and profitable. You can learn more about it here.