Making Networking The Beginning Of A Journey
As a small business owner, networking is crucial for my business and the catalyst for some long lasting relationships.
Whether you an introvert or an extrovert, there is a way to survive networking functions and build on those connections to create long lasting relationships that hopefully grow your business too. So it makes a difference in how you communicate with people when you meet them. Contrary to popular belief, introverts can be quite outgoing in social settings; however, they re-energise themselves by spending time alone and moving inward. On the other hand, extroverts re-energise themselves by spending time with other people and benefit from the compounded energy. This is what usually occurs during a networking event.
Extroverts will strike up conversations with strangers everywhere that we go. Grocery stores, church, wine tasting, restaurants, meetings – it really doesn’t matter. If someone’s having a good time, they want to find out why and join the party. Sound familiar? However the introvert will be the silent observer, not ignoring you or not absorbing the conversation and usually needs to be introduced and encouraged to participate in the conversation. Never discount the value of getting to know them also.
When you combine an introvert with an extrovert creates a dynamic networking team. The extrovert naturally and enthusiastically starts up conversations with new people and allows the introvert to feel included without being put on the spot. And, the introvert can deepen conversations and lead to some really thought-provoking topics.
Some of our more famous people are actually invtroverts – Oprah, Hilary Clinton, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet. Are these people that you’d want on your team? Absolutely!
Here are a few of successful networking techniques:
1) When you enter a room, slow down, look around, and really see who’s there
2) Acknowledge and introduce yourself to the person standing in front of you
3) After the networking event, follow up and make a connection with someone – arrange a meeting to build the synergy
Being able to connect with other people will allow you to create lasting business relationships and improve your overall business success. But the key to success is to remember their names and follow up, even if it is a simple email or perhaps connect via social media. Don’t let the opportunity fall away. But please, don’t use the networking even to SELL yourself or your business, moreso use the opportunity to see how you can assist another person’s business. How? Ask more questions about them and less sprouting about yourself. They will ask for the information once you have developed the connection. That also makes you a better person and not selfishly centred on you. Start a conversation with a thought provoking question that will stimulate a group to participate and everyone gets included.
One clever colleague I know has a rule of two pockets at networking events – one pocket is the business card of those he has met whilst the other pocket he puts the business cards of those that he would like to follow up later. The first pocket of business cards is also asked for permission to be included on his newsletter. A successful strategy to the beginning of a journey with that contact. What’s your success strategy?