Updated: Aug 31, 2019
I set a goal to network every single day for a month and here are the basics of what I learned.
As we all know, starting a new business is challenging and one of the biggest challenges is figuring out how to get new clients. For so long I had the luxury of obtaining new business through referrals and while this is nice, it’s not a long term strategy for business success. So, I had to get out from behind my computer, get out there, and let people know I exist. How did I do that? Through networking. Here’s what I learned.
1. It’s all about connecting. For so long I avoided networking because I thought it meant selling and I don’t want to “sell” anyone. Fortunately, I met a lady who explained to me that networking isn’t about that. It’s really about connecting with other business owners. So that’s how I think about it. I’m not going there to sell, I’m just going to meet other business owners and this gets me through the day.
2. Forget about yourself while networking. I always go with the intention of meeting other people and only focusing on them, not just what they do for a living but who they are as people. When engaged in a conversation, really listen and pay attention. Don’t just pretend to listen! Also ask questions when you feel it’s appropriate. I only start talking about myself if they start asking me questions and I don’t ramble on and on about myself. I have a tendency to always guide the conversation back to the other person naturally so this is not a problem for me.
3. Only give business cards when asked for one. One of the biggest mistakes a person can make is to go around just handing out business cards to everyone you see. This is a great way to get on everyone’s bad side. It’s just bad etiquette and you’ll look like a clueless fool. I always wait until they ask me for one, then I ask for theirs. On the flip side, I have no problem asking someone for their card and you shouldn’t either.
4. Try to set up “dates”. If you know your schedule or have your phone handy, try to set up appointments right then and there to meet sometime within the next 2 weeks. Just say something like, “Hey, I’d really like to hear more about what you do. Would you like to set up a meeting right now?” Some will set that date and some will have to get back. Try to have a goal number in mind to leave with a certain amount of dates already set.
5. Allot a certain amount of time for networking each month. If you are trying to grow your business then getting your face and name out there in front of people (in real life) is the best way to do it. This means you have to network. This has literally become my new full time job. Like I said, I’ve been doing this all day, every day for a month and I’m just now starting to see results. It takes consistency, hard work, time, and money but it pays off. As business owners we are often strapped for time but if you can just pick 1 or 2 events a month, it’ll be worth it.