This week we’re in Canada – brrr! We came back for a wedding and are enjoying visiting with family & friends! I’m also happy to do a little networking while I’m in a different country! Telling 3 people a day what you do really helps to grow your network.
As I’ve been establishing my business here in California, I’ve been attending a lot of networking events. It seems to me that a lot of people are still networking “old school”! Like sitting down to a table, passing around a stack of cards without even meeting anyone. In that person’s defense, I just don’t’ think she knows any better. I’m excited to be sharing some tips with the young professionals group of the local Chamber, where I will go over a few tips on how to build meaningful relationships that lead to referrals.
“4 Tips to Effective Networking”
Tip #1: The know, like & trust factor. Most of you have probably heard about this before. Essentially people usually only refer others that they know, like and trust. The popular networking group, BNI, is structured in this way. A weekly meeting is held and at each meeting members are expected to pass a referral or to have met with someone from the group in-between meetings. They understand that even when a person is involved in a networking group they will only refer to others within the group if they have a relationship with them and trust them. It takes a little time and effort to get to know someone before referring business to them and for it to be reciprocated.
Tip #2. Set the intention to have a great conversation when you’re meeting new people. I don’t know about you, but I find small talk exhausting. I don’t want to talk about the weather and surface level topics. I like having a deep conversation with people. It’s about connecting on a deeper level and building relationships with people you connect with. I want to refer to people that I really like and believe in. If someone doesn’t sit right with me, then they probably won’t with the people I know either. I also know that they are a right fit for someone else. There is lots of abundance for everyone. I always set the intention before attending an event, that I will have at least one great conversation. Low and behold, I always do!
So definitely don’t go to a meeting and just hand out a bunch of cards and expect your phone to be ringing off the hook. Take the time to have at least one meaningful conversation with someone. You might be thinking that one connection versus reaching out to many doesn’t make sense. The reality though, is that people won’t just call you if you’ve passed your card to them and haven’t even at least met them. It’s a waste of cards. That one connection can make all of the difference.
Tip #3. Think about how you can honestly help people at these events. When I meet new people, I’m truly interested in how I can move them forward and I always have my ears open to whom I can connect them with in order to do just that. This serves a few purposes. First, it just feels good to help people without trying to “get” something for yourself. People don’t want to be “sold” to and these networking situations are especially awkward when people are trying to do just that. I find it helpful to ask the person I’m talking to a bunch of questions about themselves and be thinking the whole time about I can help them. You will have your turn to let them know what you do too at the right time.
Second, by approaching the conversation his way, it helps to build the trust factor with them. They see that you are a genuine person and nice to be around. This is the first step in building a meaningful relationship.
Tip #4. What to do post-event? It’s important to have a follow-up system in place for the next morning after an event and to allot time for this in your calendar. If someone has expressed interest in receiving my weekly articles, I will make sure they are signed-up to do that. For anyone I felt a connection with, I will ask them to go for a coffee or for lunch. Meaning, I would like to start building a relationship with them whether the purpose is to work together personally or to add them as a center of influence (people who refer business to you). It’s best to meet with people in-person whenever you can. You will really get to know them this way and vice versa. For anyone I exchange cards with, I will make sure to send them a note by email the next morning, and then look for them on facebook so that we can stay connected on a regular basis. For you this might be a different social media venue depending on which one you’ve had the most success with.
It’s also important to stay in touch with the people you meet on a regular basis. If they are a center of influence, then following-up with them in-person once a quarter is reasonable or more, depending on the amount of referrals they provide. Like any relationship that’s important, you want to be sure take the time to nourish it. Of course this shouldn’t feel like any type of chore, because the people you have developed these relationships with you likely really enjoy being around.
Happy Networking & Business Building!