Happy New Year! I hope you had as great of a New Years Eve as I did. Nothing is better than being surrounded by loved ones and a couple bottles of nice wine. In honor of my first blog post of 2017, I'll be using Pantone's 2017 color of the year, greenery throughout the post.
I put this list together because I think we can all agree that the best way to get business is through contacts you already know. If you've been part of the same networking group for years, or been introduced through a mutual contact, it's slightly easier to start a business relationship this way because the initial trust is already established. Of course, the best way to meet new contacts is through networking. At times, networking can be nerve-racking, awkward, or tiring, but mostly I've found it to be fun! Read below for a few of the best (read: honest) no b.s. networking tips I have for 2017.
1. Know When to Join a Conversation
You know the moment; you walk into a networking event and no one you know is there. Or maybe you've a few minutes late and everyone is already mid conversation. The best approach is to find someone and start talking. Sometimes, it is harder then it sounds. It's best to look for someone else on their own, or a group of three. This way you found someone who also might've felt uncomfortable or found a group of people who were talking and therefore didn't interrupt what could be a private conversation.
2. Know When to Leave
Almost more important than knowing when to join a conversation, is knowing when to leave. Most times, you'll be able to find common ground with someone and chat and joke with them. Even when you find a good connection with someone, you don't want to spend all your time (and theirs) chatting. The goal of networking is to make a few good connections so you don't want to monopolize anyone's time too much. On the flip-side (and I think this is very rare so don't get me wrong) but occasionally you'll start talking to someone and you two might not vibe at all and you'll want an exit of the conversation. The answer to this is easier than you might think. No, you don't need to lie and say you have to go to the bathroom, or down your drink and use the bar as an excuse. Just simply say "It was nice chatting with you" and exchange business cards.
3. Make Friends
"It's not what you know, it's who you know"
The number one mistake people make when networking is being selfish. It seems weird to think that you can be selfish while networking but it happens. Instead of focusing on building a connection, people too often focus on building their business. When you meet someone, pretend like its the first day of kindergarten and make friends. People want to work with people they trust and get along with. So let friendships come first and business will fall into place. It's also important to not write someone off because of what they do. Swap out the thought "they're not a good contact for my business" with "how can I be a good contact for them?" Then follow through, introduce them to those in your network who might need their services or invite them to the next networking event you're attending.
The moral of all this is yes, sometimes, networking can be awkward. I'll say it even if no one else will. But, it doesn't have to be. In fact, I'd argue that 99.9% of the time networking events are a lot of fun. I've made countless contacts and friends through networking and proud to say how supportive the group is. All the you have to is be confident, relax, and have fun.
The most important tip I have that's not listed above? Sign and GO. Go to as many networking events as your schedule allows. You'll see your business grow!
Hi there, it's me, Michelle! Welcome to my blog. It’s a deeper look into my business and marketing tips for you.