Updated: Aug 31, 2019
Don’t get caught off guard – there are several things you should know before you start networking.
Back in March I set a goal to network every day for a month in efforts to gain new clients. It was something new for me, as I never wanted to go out and network before. I thought it was all about selling, but it’s not. Networking is meeting other business owners, learning about them, and letting them learn about what you do. It’s that simple. The month may be over but I have continued to include networking as part of my business strategy. If you’re new to this, here are some things you can expect so you’re better prepared when going to these events.
Things to expect while networking
1. Be prepared to speak. I don’t know why it took me 4 weeks to figure this out but it happens without fail. YOU WILL HAVE TO STAND UP AND INTRODUCE YOURSELF TO THE ENTIRE GROUP. This is a given, so you better be prepared. When I started I had no idea this was part of the deal. Have your 30 second commercial memorized and you’ll be ready to kill it!
2. You will spend a lot of time on this. As I mentioned in another post, networking has become a full time job in itself. When I’m not working on a project guess what I’m doing? Networking. This is especially important during the first year (or two) when starting your business. How are people going to know about you? When I started out most of my clients came from referrals. Fantastic! It was super easy and the work just came to me with no extra effort on my part. Now, referrals are great. That means you’ve got happy clients, but you absolutely cannot depend on this if you want your business to survive and thrive. You have to be proactive, you have to put in the work, you have to GO OUT and GET business.
3. You will be spending money. As the saying goes, you have to spend money to make money. Well, when it comes to networking this is very true. A lot of events have registration fees, food costs, parking fees, etc. And don’t forget about gas money. I live in Houston so everything is basically about an hour away, no matter where you are. Driving all around town adds up! Just keep this in mind when budgeting and don’t worry about the money spent. Consider it an investment in your business, because it is.
4. New business doesn’t happen overnight. It will take some time to get things going and just keep at it no matter what. You will have those days where everyone at the event will ask for your card, and other days where you feel like you don’t even exist. You will also have people interested in your services, but then disappear on you once you make a proposal. This is part of the game so don’t give up. Consistency is key. I just think of it as planting seeds for later on. One day that harvest will come in!
5. You will start to see the same faces.
After a few weeks you may start to see some familiar faces at the events you go to. This is good for several reasons. First, you get a chance to get to know these people even better and they get to know you. This is very important when it comes to establishing trust, which is one of the major components when doing business with someone. Second, it’s always a little nerve racking when going to new places and not knowing anyone. When you see someone familiar this tends to ease that nervousness. On the flip side, it’s also important to visit different groups and meet new people. Otherwise, networking becomes more of a social gathering and will waste valuable time.
I pretty much just dove in head first when I started networking and there are a lot of things I wish I had researched beforehand. That’s why I’m writing this now, to help others looking to get started. Networking is a great way to get your business name out there and meet other business owners whose services you can use as well. If you’re interested in more tips I’ll have some more coming out this week. Take care!