Networking For Business – 5 Do’s and 5 Don’ts
Attending networking events and/or connecting with others online, on social networking platforms, is vital in the start up stage and for the consistent, on-going, growth of your business. Some of us relish networking and love meeting new people, some of us find it daunting and nerve wrecking. It still has to be done. In this post we look at networking for business and 5 do’s and 5 don’t from the Maid In Business.
Networking, to give it an official definition, is: Connecting with and operating within a group of like minded individuals to share information, business leads and develop your professional contacts within your industry or business area. In reality, networking is attending events, of rooms full of people you have never met, and trying to develop and grow relationships with them without being fake or a sale-sy slime-ball. Easy right? :-/
5 Do’s and 5 Don’t to Networking
DON’T sell – Yes, you did read that correctly. I realise this sounds counterintuitive to attending a networking event, as the whole reason you are mixing with a bunch of people, at a business event, you don’t know is to sell your wares yes? Whilst essentially that is true (and everyone in the room knows it) there is an etiquette to networking that must be followed. Successful networking is about building long term relationships and trust – do this and the selling of your wares will come.
DO introduce yourself and your business – Use your name, title if relevant, your business name and a brief description of what you do. Your description of your business should be 10 – 15 words, nobody asked for your life story, so keep it brief and to the point. See below.
DON’T talk, talk, talk. Networking is about building relationships, not promoting the empire of YOU. Seriously, stop it, take a breath, ask someone a question about them and what they do, you may learn something.
DO listen more than you talk. Listening is a very highly under rated skill that you would do well to pay more attention to in your business and life. You can learn so much if you just listen. To be a good listener make sure you are asking open ended questions, such as; who, when, what, how, why… “How long have you been with X business?”, “What got you into the widget industry?”, “Who is the industry leader you admire most?”
“Most People listen with the intent to reply, not to understand” ~ Stephen Covey
DON’T attend every networking event in the world! We all know those people that would attend the opening of an envelope? You see their names on every attendee list, you see pictures of them sipping coffee and yet another “meeting”, they are everywhere. Attending everyman and his dog networking events are a waste of your time. Chose your networking events wisely and for tis reason – every out of your business networking is an hour out of business day and other tasks you could be doing, so spend the time well
DO have a plan for networking. Research which networking events are open in your area/industry and look into them. Research the attendee list, take a look at who the speaker is and what their credentials are, look up some people you have not heard of and see if you should be meeting these people – if you should, book and go meet them!
DON’T promise things you can’t deliver. Don’t promise you will meet up for a coffee, attend an event, write a guest blog, give a half day of your time etc. if you just can’t/don’t want to. You are running a business and yes you have to network to grow your presence BUT do not forget the goals of your business and why you are attending networking events in the first place. I understand you want to be helpful and be seem as a team player by the networking group and that is great, but please have your own house in order before you start lending yourself to others.
DO follow up something straight away if you say that you will do something. The general rule of thumb for networking is 24 hours, however, in this snazzy day and age of smart phone technology you can send that business card or document right there and then – check you being all efficient and stuff!
DON’T cut off. Do not be fooled that you do not need to network either in person or online to grow your business and that sales will come flooding through as soon as your website goes live, as you are dreamland. Even with the best product or service in the world no one knows who you are and no one trusts the wild claims of excellence from an un-known; you need to get out there, get visible and get building your credibility.
DO use other methods of networking and plan your networking time. With the internet and development of social networking, we can now network online too, with people all over the world, in our geographical areas, in our niches, in our micro-niches..phew! We can network everywhere! One important thing to remember is to plan your time of when you will network – for example, on social networking sites, I advise you set aside 4 x 15 minute blocks through out the day to go onto social platform sites to reply to notifications, retweet/like/plus content you read etc. so that social networking does not take over your day. With regards to real life networking, I advise setting yourself a quota of say two hours a week and then research and find the best networking events worth the two hours of your precious time
Take a look at the video from Maid In Business, explaining the 5 do’s and the 5 don’ts of business networking:
What are your networking do’s and don’ts? Do you have any networking top tips? Do you have any networking stories you’d like to share, as I’d love to hear them.
Thank you for reading and watching and make sure you check out the next post all about how to develop a one minute sales pitch.
Until next time,
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