I came across this considered article by Mark Buchan, essentially
about the etiquette of business networking, and thought the
strategies could be nicely adapted for the online world where
internet marketers could do with some tips when venturing out into
the “real” world of seminars and the like!
Business Networking For Entrepreneurs – 10 Golden Rules to Maximise
By Mark Buchan
Here are my 10 golden rules for entrepreneurs who, like me, have
decided to engage in business to business networking.
Provide value: I call this “Pay it Forward” networking after the
motion picture of the same name, always seek to provide value to
another fellow networker before expecting value back from them. In
this way you will be remembered more, for all the right reasons, by
people who you have provided value for. People hate to be sold to so
avoid trying to sell yourself by saying “I can do that for you” or
“my company can do that for you”. Providing value at first will mean
giving without expecting a return. Do it for the joy of giving
rather than the expectation of receiving.
Be precise: You must know exactly what you are looking for by
attending a networking event. So precision in this circumstance
means: not just knowing your target market but more specifically who
in your target market you wish to speak to. Precision also means
being precise in your message and thus clearly communicating what
you and/or your business does.
Set goals: Whatever field you are involved in there is great value
in setting goals for yourself. Make sure you have a monthly goal of
how many networking events you wish to attend, how many authentic
connections you want to make. Note that I have not said how much
business you want to make. Whatever goal you set will be highly
dependant on other people and so in my world is an unrealistic goal
Prioritise your time: This is a must. Don’t mistake activity for
accomplishment when it comes to networking. A good thing to do here
is make sure that the events you attend either have people in your
target market or have people who have access to your target market.
Some people may become addicted networkers because they love being
around people and that is nice, but ultimately I treat networking as
a marketing tool that must deliver results. If it doesn’t then its
time to reprioritise my resources.
Measure your effectiveness: You need to know how effective your
networking efforts are so continuously monitor and measure your
success. This can then inform you as to what is working for you and
what is not. Don’t be afraid to call it a day on your activities
that don’t pay.
Be your own best advertisement: Ensure that you look and sound smart
by making a good first impression. Always be dressed for business,
as if you were meeting a customer. Avoid swearing or getting tipsy
as these behaviours may signal a lack of self control.
Show sincere interest in the other people: Rather than just “going
through the motions” become really interested in the person you are
speaking to. Start to build a picture of them, not as your customer
but a human being. What are their dreams, goals desires, where was
their last holiday, are they a sports fan if so which one, so on and
so on. Seek to build meaningful relationships that last for more
than just one meeting. Nobody will “buy you” in just one 10 minute
meeting although they will decide whether they like you or not. This
is why the next point is important…
Go for “small yeses”: Don’t attend a networking event thinking that
you will make a sale that day – that would be considered a “big
yes”. If you do achieve that goal, well done, but that is not the
point of the meeting. The first “small yes” is to make as an
authentic connection with someone. Once you have achieved that you
then go for the next “small yes” which is to have a reason to follow
up with them, most preferably this will be by providing them with
some value. Completing a series of these baby steps or small yeses
is a good way to build a relationship, but it does take time. So
manage your own expectations about what you can realistically expect
out of the events.
Mingle and move on: Everyone in a networking event has, or at least
should have, the same goal: making new connections. If you find
yourself talking to just one person, or the same person if you
attend a regular event ensure you change this behaviour and set a
goal for yourself to meet more people. This may sound contrived and
may strike you as a little engineered, but that is exactly what you
need to do to make the event successful for you.
Use your business cards wisely: I’m a great believer in keeping my
business card to myself, I will only hand it out to people who ask
for it. If I don’t know them I might reserve the right to even give
them my card. Often people go to networking events just to collect
cards for their database and to my mind that is a big no-no. I never
put peoples names on a marketing list unless I have their explicit
permission. I will only ask for someone else’s business card if I
have a reason to get back to them and I will make an obvious notes
on their card as for the reason to get back to them i.e. provide
them an article I have written or someone else’s number who they
should speak to – again providing value for them.
Thanks Mark, definitely some food for thought.
For some business networking online, join these:
Sokule and KuleSpace.