Back to the Basics: NETWORKING

NetworkingNetworking is the number one way for you to obtain new clients, and if done correctly, have people referring you to their clients.  Networking allows you to see and be seen by those who are in business.  It is imperative that you make an effort to get out and meet those who will work with you, will refer you, or will provide service that you need for doing your own business.

The basics of networking are simple.  However, it takes commitment and a plan in order to be an effective networker.  Try these steps to improve your networking effectiveness:

  1. Number one rule – get out there. You cannot network if you stay stuck behind your computer all day, never leave your office or home, and believe cold calling is networking.  Find a networking group of any sort and start.  Do not worry if it is the “right” group or not – just get started.  As you continue to get out there with others you will begin discovering where the types of businesses network that you want to meet.  Then you can start making informed decisions as to where you should spent you time.
  2. Talk to a stranger, not just the people you know.  It is only natural that we are polite and speak to people we know and see at an event.  After you have made these rounds (and keep it short) look for a stranger in the room.  If they are engaged in conversation with another person and they are facing each other then they are signaling that they do not want another person in their conversation. However, if they are standing at an angle to each other, and there is an opening in their circle of conversation, then by all means fill that void and stand there until one of them recognizes your presence.
  3. Introduce yourself.  This is hard for some people so try the following:
    1. Look them straight in the eye, put out your hand, and say “Hi, my name is Tom Lunney.  What is yours?”  And stand there until they shake your hand.
    2. After they say their name then ask them, “And what do you do?”  And then be silent.  Silence is annoying and will prompt them to speak.
    3. If they do not ask you what you do then ask one more question “And how do you like that?”.  Again be silent.
    4. At this point they should have asked you the same questions which you should answer, and now you are networking.  If they do not ask you the same question, they are not interested in networking.  You should make a 90 degree turn, walk away, and start the process all over again with a new person.

Exchange cards after you have had a brief discussion and follow up with an email asking if they would like to get coffee at a later date.  You have now increased your network by at least one person.

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