Right now I’m in hermit mode, getting stuff done, but short on the local business right now. Thankfully even while a hermit business does come in from referrals, and networking online. I’m not really comfortable in a large group of strangers, but I do great in small groups and one on one.
Thanks to Dina Giolitto in asking for suggestions to help a networking newbie. I’m sure her Copywriting ebook will be awesome, as everything she has written so far has been great. I’ve known Dina for years. Now for my face to face networking tips for newbies:
- Joining a networking group such as BNI helps you learn to be a better networker. They teach you how to network. If you don’t know how to get started, join such a group. Do some research before joining to see if the group is right for you.
- It takes time to build trust. Don’t expect a total stranger to do business because you said “Hi!” and handed them your business card. Build relationships.
- Referrals from trusted sources shorten that trust building time. Nice when a stranger calls you, ready to do business because you were referred to them. Only questions are how much will it cost? When can you start?
- Going to a chamber of commerce event was easier when other members of our BNI group were there too. We could introduce people we meet to each other. I could say this is Fred, he takes the headache out of office machines. Next time you feel like chunking your printer out the window, give Fred a call.
- Make friends (such as BNI or other networking group), get to know what each other is good at, let them know specifically what kind of referral is good for you.
- Don’t be a pest. When you follow up with someone it should be what can I do to help? Not buy my stuff.
- Lifestyle networking, my favorite. People are everywhere. You don’t have to limit yourself to networking events. I’ve meet some cool people waiting in checkout lines, at the park, kids tennis practice, waiting at doctor’s offices, church, kid’s swim meets, while taking photos on the side of the road…
- Make yourself easy to remember. I sent a card with some brownies to an Albuquerque business after being introduced to them over the phone. A few weeks later I was in the area and called to see if I could stop by. “Yes!” When I walked in the office, everyone knew me, even though I’d never meet any of them face to face. I was the “brownie lady”.
- Consistantly plan. I’ll have to thank Carol Deckert for reminding me. “Who will you meet this next week?” Life gets busy, we have more good things we can do with our time then hours in a day. And if we don’t plan to follow up or meet someone, then it does not get done and you may find yourself in hermit mode. Ouch!
Remember, you are not the only one learning how to network. Something you’ll get better at the more you do.
Image by Alan O’Rourke