You need to spend money to make money, but you also need to dedicate time to building a business network. Here are nine ways to network yourself and shine a new light on your business.
1. Always arrive early.
When it comes to events, arriving early will help you to gage the space, scan the people already there and brace yourself to meet new people and connect; at the start of networking events, most attendees have not yet divided into groups, which make it easier to approach people and make conversation.
2. Ask open questions.
Avoid questions that can easily be answered with a curt yes or no. Phrase your questions in a way that your conversation partners can share something appealing about themselves or their business. Open questions prompt discussion and shows listeners that you are interested.
3. Make a good first impression.
A good first impression is a valuable asset because it can facilitate initial contact with people that you have marked as essential to your business. Being well-spoken is important, so practice the core details explaining your business vision. Avoid coming over clumsy when handing out business cards by simply reserving one pocket, such as the inside of your jacket, for cards you receive, and reserving the outside jacket pockets for your own cards. Also avoid drinking too much; recent research suggests that people are more likely to go over their limit when drinking among large groups of people, such as at special events.
4. Understand their needs first.
Understanding the needs of your conversation partner before you tell them about your needs, can help you develop a relationship with the person. It also helps you formulate how you can best serve them. When you then speak to them, your presentation is already customised to what their specific needs are; thereby improving the chances they will remember you when you follow up.
5. Everyone is a relevant contact.
A business in its early start-up phase has room to grow in unexpected directions. Leave time open for unexpected conversations with people who are not necessarily directly related to your business. With a broad network, you can be the link that connects people across industries.
6. Become a resource to others.
You can establish yourself as a resource by habitually introducing people to each other. It may seem counter-intuitive, but when other people consider you a resource, they remember to turn to you for ideas, suggestions or names of people. Connecting like-minded people also enhances the power of your own network by having more than one resource to turn to when you are in need.
7. Get involved in their work.
Consider partnering up in projects or events that your conversation partner may be hosting. Working with someone gives them insight into who you are and can help you reinforce a positive relationship with them. Volunteering at their organisation’s event provides you with an opportunity to meet more influential members of their personnel.
8. Follow up.
Networking doesn’t end with a goodbye. Ask your conversation partner the best way to stay in touch. Some people prefer specific ways to keep contact, such as email, phone or social networks like LinkedIn. Some experts suggest getting in touch within 48 hours is important to reinforce the relationship. Be sure to mention something you discussed or a reference made between the two of you in order to jog their memory.
9. Leave nothing to chance.
Save time and energy by streamlining your activities. Define what you are looking for in your network; what industries or professionals will help your business? Be proactive, contact event organisers to enquire after a list of attendees or companies who will be attending the event.
Source:Louis Nel for BT