One of the most cost-effective methods of getting your business known is through networking.
In today’s financially challenging times, companies are cutting down on things that are seen as “less crucial” and unfortunately, advertising is seen to be one of these things. What many business owners do not understand is though, is that the growth of any business is directly correlated to the number of people who know about it.
The main functions of networking are becoming visible, listening and responding, being good conversationalists and getting to know people. Sadly though, many business owners fail at networking or are reluctant to participate due to fear of speaking to a total stranger, choosing the wrong network and expecting results overnight.
As firm believers of networking, we have some tips for you on how to become an effective networker:
You have 30 seconds from the moment you meet a person, to make an impression. Make sure that you have a clever opening line prepared to introduce yourself and your business. Practice answers to questions that may be asked and have a list of questions to ask others.
People love to talk about themselves. Make a point of being genuinely interested in what people have to say. Remember that everyone you meet is a potential customer or valuable contact.
3. Identify your prospects
Enter the room knowing who your target market is, and make a point of acquiring at least 2 valuable business cards during the network. The more you network, the higher you can set your targets, but start small at first.
4. Get involved
Look for ways to contribute what you know and get your name out there. Participate in events, clubs etc. that offer you opportunities to meet people who fall in line with your target audience. Keep in mind that networking is not just about making sure that everyone knows who you are and what you do – concentrate on meeting contacts with whom you can develop win-win relationships.
5. Have fun
Although there is a serious side to networking, don’t forget that networking is meant to be fun. Relax, enjoy yourself and people will be attracted to you.
If you don’t feel comfortable with public speaking, consider other means of networking, such as the internet.
Remember that as long as you are in a comfort zone, you are not growing, and neither is your business.
In every situation lies an opportunity.