It is a dark day for most new business owners when they come to the inevitable conclusion that they need to network to grow their business. The idea of going into a networking event cold, not knowing anyone, having to strike up conversations with strangers and somehow talk about your business is terrifying to the uninitiated.
There is one basic philosophy and a few simple tips that will alleviate this fear and allow you to not only succeed in networking, but grow your business as well.
What is the one philosophy?
As difficult as it may be, forget growing your business. Forget making money. Don’t worry about getting new clients. Go in to every networking event with the idea of being of service to the people that you meet. Here’s how to do it.
At a networking event that I attended recently we were invited to stand up and introduce ourselves. The room was a little tech heavy with software developers, coders and the like. At one point a man stood up, introduced himself and said, “and I am the best coder in this room.”
It was so off-putting that it actually garnered snickers and laughter from the crowd. In a room full of a hundred plus people, this man, in one fell swoop, eliminated any potential business or collaboration with anyone in the room.
Arrogance repels people. Humility endears people.
Learn About THEM
I once attended a networking event in which man came in, walked around the room introducing himself to people and shoving his business cards in their hands. Then he left. Again, the room collectively shrugged and by the end of the event the bulk (if not all) of the man’s cards were left on the table.
Don’t immediately talk about yourself when speaking with new people. Ask them about themselves, their business, their ideal clients, why they do what they do, their families and more. Learn about them. Try to think of ways that you can help them with their business. People like to speak about themselves and this will give them an opportunity to do so. Lastly, when you put the onus on them to speak it will reduce your fear of performing!
Once you have learned about their business and ideal clients, try to come up with a way to help them. Perhaps you can think of a potential client for them. Maybe there’s another networking event that they might benefit from. There could be someone in a neighbouring business that they can collaborate with. Do you best to try and help them grow their business in any way you can. It is through helping and serving other people of business that people will then want to return the favour.
When the event is done and you are back at the office, follow up with an email. This is where you want to come through with the offer to help. Maybe it’s an introduction the the person you recommended they meet, an invite to the other networking event, etc. Always follow up!
People feel an inherent sense of balance in this world. If you help them, they will feel compelled to do the same for you. It is through humility, generosity and service that you will find success in your business. If you embrace this simple philosophy of helping others, you simply won’t believe the the leaps and bounds with which your business will grow.
Andy Bush, President
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