Do you Know the Right People?
People and relationships are way more important in the corporate world than many people even seem to realize. People will get you places you cannot get to on your own. As vague as that statement sounds, it is basically the logic behind networking. Networking could get you the referrals and business that you need to go that much further in your business. This is especially important for small businesses that are trying to stay alive amidst forces that are to be reckoned with. New businesses that are taking infant steps should value networking no less, either.
For all the talk there is about networking, what is networking really supposed to be about? There are probably not many dos but you bet there are some severe don’ts. For example, while elevator pitching might seem like the recipe for networking success one should avoid sales pitching or hard selling. Sales pitching, in networking, is very much like a one night stand when one should actually be looking for a long term relationship. Hard selling is not up anyone’s alley either and you only risk leaving a distasteful impression and wasting your time.
This then beckons the question of how to network effectively? By paying more attention to the following not only can you avoid networking disasters but you can also build some important relationships that might advance your business, career etc.
Appear confident and poised:
To some the prospect of walking up to a complete stranger and engaging in a conversation can prove to be too daunting an experience. This might motivate them to talk themselves out of approaching someone more successful. Always avoid such negative self-talk and make yourself appear calm and composed through, for example, a firm handshake and eye contact. Sometimes, very small things like holding a drink in one hand and taking sporadic sips could keep your nerves in check and also make silences more tolerable.
The elevator pitch:
The elevator pitch is something like a mini advertisement for yourself, your business, your product or anything else that you wish to promote. Imagine you are given one to two minutes airtime and tasked with promoting yourself or your business. What will you choose to say? You need to definitely grab attention quickly and from there you should bring out the best selling proposition. The important focus should be on how helpful you or your business can be to others.
Making the best of your contacts:
Networking should not simply become a business cards distribution session. At the end of the day you are only going to end up burning a hole in your pocket from printing hoards and hoards of business cards. You should, rather, identify your targets with greater care and find out their value to your trade. That, you can only do by conversing and getting information. The following questions might seem helpful.
– What does your company do?
– What does your client base tend to be like?
– How do you strive to advance in this field?
From there, you gauge if and how you should follow up. Diane Darling from Effective Networking suggests using the ABC method. It involves categorising the people into A-Action-need to connect them with someone, B-Want to have coffee with, C-Whenever/If Ever-nice conversation but no immediate need to connect with them. This method helps to sieve out the very important contacts from those who are not of immediate importance. Regardless, it is key to ensure no ties are severed even if somebody does not appear to be of any value to you. There might always come a time when you need them.
Get that business card ready, put your best networking outfit on and set out now!
By Devi, PR Associate @ Corporate Media Services