The calendar has once again rolled over to a new year. Hopefully, you took some time in the last quarter of 2011 to evaluate your business model and strategies to enter 2012 with a solid plan for growth.
If I were to ask you to list the important components of your growth plan, would you list networking? Possibly not, because networking has gotten a bad rap. This is partly on account of the abundance of networking socials where overly aggressive business owners are too eager to tell you what they do before even learning your name.
This kind of networking = definitely bad. But networking socials, events and functions can be a healthy way to build your business. No, really! The problem is that most people don’t approach them with the right attitude. Over the next 12 blog posts, I am going to provide you with 12 ways you can transform your participation at networking events from awkward gatherings of no real value to a meaningful use of your time that brings the success networking should.
Let’s get started:
Tip #1: Redefine Your Concept of Networking
If you think of networking as meeting people in order to conduct business with them, then my friend, you are on the wrong track. If you approach a networking gig looking to tell people about your products to sell something, you’ve likely been disappointed in the previous events you’ve attended.
Networking is about establishing mutually beneficial relationships. Building relationships is not a one-time event. Relationships must be cultivated and developed. Increasing levels of trust and like-ability happen over time. A networking event meeting could be the start of something that benefits both you and them, but it begins with them.
Repeat after me: “When I go to a networking event, my purpose is not sell my stuff to the people there.”
If done right, new connections made will lead to growth in your business, but you are not going to walk out of a networking social with a purchase order in hand. If you can grasp this truth ahead of time, the pressure will be off of your shoulders to “sell, sell, sell” and you can relax and enjoy the true goal: Building ambassadors for your business.
How do you build ambassadors? By getting people to know you, like you, and trust you – so they will refer you. Yes, it is possible that the people you meet directly may at some point have need for your services; but the real power is in reaching their connections and contacts through their good word about you.
Building ambassadors begins with taking the focus off of you and ensuring that for each person you talk to, the focus is on them. It might sound backwards that they will like you when you put the focus on them; but that is exactly what happens.
Over the next several days we will show you how to do just that. My goal is that you no longer leave a networking event discouraged and disappointed. My goal is to transform the tired old after-hours social to a place where exciting new relationships are developed. Will you join me on this mission?