New Year, New Networking:

How To Find Opportunity and Grow it Into New Business

 Networking

It’s the New Year and with that roll over on the calendar, it’s almost habit for us to start out the year with tons of resolutions that inevitably end up in the round file, defeated and forgotten.

This year, instead of resolving to do something that is overwhelming and unattainable, why net set one goal that will help you move your business forward and then go achieve it.  Let’s talk about networking.  It a long-discussed topic, but with all the social media out there now, its more important than ever to brush up on our relationship skills and keep that human touch alive.

 So where do we find opportunities to start growing into relationships and business opportunity?  Uh, oh.  Here comes that dreaded word.  Networking.    Yes, we said it and we’ll say it again.  Net working.

 Now that you’re shivering and in a cold sweat, let’s get down to business.  Locating and converting acquaintances for your business can be a daunting task, but with the right approach it can be an effective tool to attract quality clients/ customers to your doorstep.

 Take a look at these tips to help you network and relationship build effectively.

  • Find a group that interests you outside of talking about YOUR business.  It’s always easier to start with a common interest and then evolve the conversation to business.  It also kicks off a genuine conversation.
  •  Be friendly and approachable.   Ask people open-ended questions.  Get them talking about themselves.  It’s so much more fun than the blunt question of, “so what do you do…”   Networking is a two-way conversation.  If you’re not listening as much as you’re talking you’re traveling down a one-way expressway and most likely won’t end up with a lead let alone business opportunity.  Networking well is a subtle art.  Also, when you’re paying attention, you become a bridge builder for other people that you can connect.  Everyone loves a team player that is a great resource.  It keeps YOU in their mind.  It will eventually pay off in benefit to you.
  •  Relationships are about quality, not quantity. They take time.  We’ve all been to or been victims of speed networking.  You know, you spend two minutes talking about yourself, exchange business cards, go home load the cards in the data base and start receiving emails that don’t interest and usually end up annoying the H-E double hockey sticks out of you.    Consider a quality introduction a good start.  Don’t try to hit a home run the first time you meet someone…you’ll just come off as desperate and insincere.  Not a good combination for anything let alone relationship building.
  •  Focus on value – for them, not yourself.  It will come back to you.  The more you can help others, the more they will help you.  Get in the habit of introducing people.  There’s that building bridges thing again.

 Just a couple more things and you’ll be on your way to New Year networking.

  •  Before you start networking you need to understand how other people can help you and be able to communicate it verbally.  You also need to be able to concisely explain how you can help others you meet.  One of the easiest mistakes networkers make is to communicate concisely. A little preparation goes a long way.  Focus on the demographic of your clientele, what you offer your clients; how you are different from your competitors…you get the picture, right?
  • When you’re referred to someone – make sure you follow up with them right away.  People won’t refer you if they hear that you didn’t follow up or follow through on a referral.

Taking action is often times the hardest.  You don’t have to be a master networker to get started.  You just have to start reaching out.  Be considerate, be genuine and helpful and you will soon be on your way to building new relationships that can create opportunity for years to come.

Good luck, let us know how it goes and send us tips that you think will help others out on the networking trail.

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