3 Networking Tips - Better Connections and More Sales
It’s no secret that referrals, word of mouth marketing, are the number one driver of business and beat every sales strategy. Nothing compares to that personal recommendation from a family member, friend, trusted advisor or client. Just this last week, I had my network opened up to an entire new potential revenue stream through casual but intentional conversation with a friend who is also a trusted business advisor. It’s easy to network and can happen during any conversation and not just at a labeled “networking event.”
First, approach networking as relationship building. Attend Industry events or meet-ups with a plan. Select a business association or group of like-minded individuals and be consistent with your attendance at events. Use your social media network to see who is attending these events and if the connections would be an asset to your business and in line with your business goals. Attend lunch meetings or events with a goal. It could be to ask for a referral in someone else’s network, to leave with 5 new connections or to connect with someone specifically. If an organization is worth your time, truly invest and keep yourself in the middle of the action. The people you meet at these events may not be familiar at the beginning but you will become a recognized face and contributor with consistency and interaction.
Second, it’s all about establishing the relationship. Whether you are working a room of strangers or at an industry event full of familiar faces, focus on building a few close connections as opposed to multiple acquaintances. No one wants to talk with the person just handing out business cards and running around the room. It feels gross and creepy. Arrive focused and with a plan to actually engage with others in the room. People that have a connection with you and know you better will not only be more likely to refer you but their referral will also be more authentic. Likewise will happen when you are offering a referral and have a true connection. Don’t hesitate to make a reference to your relationship to each other or business when meeting a new person. Bridging the connection gap will speed the conversation and the gesture will gain instant credibility.
Third, stay in touch. Out of sight, out of mind is REAL. Jot down a note in your phone contact that is a personal touch about someone that gives you a reason and way to stay connected. It can be as simple as the name of their dog or next vacation stop. It’s a great place to pick up a conversation as you get to know a person and become more connected. You can also reference how you know or initially met someone as a way to connect you back. There are many techniques that will connect you as you discover that you may share friends or interests. Just remember when building business relationships, there is never a bad or missed connection and there is always an opportunity for you to be a connector for someone even though your own business relationship may have changed. Building relationships takes time, staying connected to people is key. Keep balancing the scales of give and take to get the most out of your network.
How much is your network worth? Do you invest the time and resources needed to build stronger relationships? How much have you invested into these relationships?
If you have any tips on how you maximize referrals I would love to hear them!