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3 Tips to Improve Your Networking Results

25 Feb,2017

Small business owners are notorious networkers. The opportunity to get out and meet new contacts for your business – especially when it’s cost effective – is always time well spent! Here are 3 quick tips to improve your networking results:

1) Choose Networking Events Carefully

While it’s true that “the more people you know, the better”, it’s also true that knowing a few of the RIGHT people is significantly more valuable to your business than simply meeting a lot of random people.

With so many opportunities available to network it can often be tempting to attend free events that attract large numbers of people. However, FREE events often attract a FREE type of audience – not always the best prospects for certain industries. For example, if you are a financial advisor and you want to network with potential investment clients, the free networking crowd may not get your best results. You may receive a much better return on your time if you attend higher end events with a more financially established crowd. Just because a room is full of people does not mean you have a room full of excellent contacts for your business. The next time you attend an event ask yourself “is this really the crowd I want to be connected with?” If not, it might be time to re-evaluate.

2) Ask More Questions to Build Relationships Quickly

Have you ever attended a networking event and had someone ask you “So, what do you do?” followed by them jumping in almost instantly to pitch you on their products and services?

A very common mistake made by networkers is focusing too much on “pitching” while at the event. Focus instead on building rapport and creating relationships. Additionally, try to help other people with introductions, connections or ideas. The more you are willing to help other business owners the more they will help you in return!

Ask more questions than “What do you do?” Try asking:

  • “How long have you had your business?”
  • “How many employees do you have?”
  • “How did you get into that business?”
  • “What is interesting or challenging in your business right now?”

Remember – people love to talk about themselves! It’s true! So ask better quality, open ended questions and see what happens. It just might help you connect with someone on a better level – and ultimately help your business.

3) Remember Why You’re There!

If you were hooked up to a lie detector testing device – and someone asked if you have ever went to a networking event and then KEPT TO YOURSELF – what would the honest answer be?

I’ll be the first to admit that in the past I’ve done this myself – but that doesn’t mean I would recommend it! Let’s face it – a lot of the time you show up to a great networking event after a long, busy, sometimes stressful work day. Often the last thing you feel like doing is stepping out of your comfort zone and making conversation with total strangers. But if you’re not going to engage in conversation with new contacts – why show up in the first place?

Networking events are kind of the same as any other type of marketing or sales. It doesn’t really matter how many people you meet who are NOT the right fit for your business. What really matters is the one or two people who ARE a good connection for you. So show up, put yourself out there – and have some fun! After all – it’s only a conversation!

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