Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Networking Success

Networking events are a great way to make new business relationships.  When I quit teaching years ago to work my direct sales business full time, I attended a weekly networking meeting on Thursday mornings for over a year in my community.  Each week everyone would give their 30 second commercial, we would have a short guest speaker, a sponsored breakfast, and time to chat at the end.  Monthly evening mixers were held at the sponsor's place of business.  If you are new to networking, here are some suggestions for getting the most out of your time.
  • You can find meetings in your area on meetup.com, look in your local newspaper, or visit my networking page for networking meetings I have listed in the Tampa Bay area.
  • There are a wide range of events that meet through out the day.  Some may host mixers with no formal setting.  Other groups will allow you to attend evening events even if you are not an official member.
  • Go prepared with an interesting 30 second commercial that highlights what you do or what you are looking for.  It is best to change up your commercial if you attend regularly.
  • Bring business cards to exchange.  Brochures and product samples are also a good idea!
  • Don't be a fly on the wall!  Introduce yourself to others and ask about their business to begin a conversation. 
  • It is important to continually build on relationships, but be careful not to use the same people each week as your comfort zone!  You want to meet a wide range of people and keep building new relationships.
  • Understand, that the intention of networking groups is to build relationships with other professionals.  This can take time, you must earn trust within the group. 
  • Committ to attend regularly. 
  • You can schedule appointments or one-on-ones with professionals you meet in the group to exchange business information and grow your relationships.
  • Find out what you can do to help other professionals.  Often referrals are most important to them.  By doing what you can to help others, generally they will want to help you in return.
  • Volunteer to sponsor an event.
  • Ask to be a guest speaker at an event.
  • Make sure you dress professionally and have a positive attitude.
  • Joining groups in other communities where you wish to grow your business is a good move too!
Some of the people I got to know through this particular networking group, I still have relationships with today.  Others, I run into regularly within my community.  The key is in building relationships!

Related Articles:
What Message Does Your Look Convey?
A Lasting Impression

Best Wishes!