Working with an Advice business has inspired me to write this post. They are looking to forge into new markets and keen to get out there and network -the thing holding them back though was not knowing how to network. I think it’s a skill some of us were taught back in the ‘good old days’ but nowadays its something that’s sadly missing in most Advisers tool kits.
As a professional in a service based industry networking is essential to growing your business. In a digital driven era, combining online connections and conversations with offline face to face catch ups can be an extremely powerful source of information and new business. Here are some tips for first timers and a refresher for the more seasoned!
- First impressions count so make sure you can clearly articulate who you help and what outcomes you deliver – “What do you really do?’
- If you haven’t met the host of the event, make sure you seek them out and introduce yourself, chances are they will be able to introduce you to someone new
- Decide, for what purpose are you attending the event, what’s your goal, set yourself a small goal or challenge – makes the event more purposeful for you, for example, meet three new contacts etc
- Hang around at the end of the event, it’s normally the best time to relax and talk to the hosts/organizers – don’t rush off!
- Have a few questions in your head, conversation starters so you don’t go blank, can happen to us all!
Some great conversation starters are:
- How do you know the host of this event?
- What other networking events do you go to?
- What do you like best about what you do?
- Tell me about your business?
- What’s a typical day like for you?
- What’s your biggest wish for next year?
- What type of clients do you work with?
- What’s the best thing that happened for your business this year?
- I hadn’t been to this venue before, have you?
- What’s on the horizon for your industry next year?
Remember when you are meeting people for the first time, the aim is to be understood, remembered and recommended (for all the right reasons!).
When you find the conversation drawing to an end, rather than wait for the uncomfortable silence, smile and thank them for the time they have spent with you. For example, “It was a pleasure meeting you, thank you for your card, I look forward to continuing this conversation in the next couple of days. Enjoy this event.” Don’t think that its rude to move away.
Your aim should be to leave the networking event with a minimum of three business cards. Then, if you want to follow up, make sure you connect 48 hours after the event. It’s amazing the number of outstanding opportunities that go by the wayside simply because someone did not follow up. And yes, you collect their business card – take control becasue if they have yours and you don’t have theirs, they may not follow up.
Building professional relationships is still the number one way for Advisers to gain new referral partners, new clients and new business opportunities. And remember, once you’ve met them connect with them on all your social networks.