Do you have a drawerful of business cards lurking somewhere in your office? Cards you have collected from networking events? Now be honest – how many of them have you ever looked at again?
There are people who attend business events to throw their business cards around like confetti at a wedding. They sow their cards and hope to magically harvest business as a result. As if!
Signs You’re in Las Vegas, Baby
- You order another 500 business cards every few months
- You actively invite everyone you meet to connect with you via social media and consider that a measure of the strength of your network
- You have a written goal to “Give out 50+ business cards every week”
- You spend more time networking each month than following up leads or prospective clients
- You give out your cards in every situation, including on the train or in the showers at the gym
Networking is about creating a tribe (or network) of people who know each other’s businesses.
It’s about creating relationships, not dishing out cards like invites to the opening of a new club in town.
How to Stack the Cards in Your Favour
- First of all give yourself a new rule: never give your card until someone asks for it
- Second, set your goals in terms of getting to know, like and trust a few select people who become part of your close network
- At each event, aim to find at least one person who you would like to get to know better – either because they are a potential client, or because they serve a similar client base to you
- Then meet and see how you can work together, refer business to each other, market your services in packages and so forth
Make sure that YOUR card is only given to those people who really want it and ONLY take them from people you want to get to know, like and trust.
Life is a rush. But is that really the last impression you want people to take away when they meet you at a networking event?
Wing Walkers are the dare-devils of the networking world. They live in heady rush and thrive off the adrenalin of doing things at the last minute. How to spot if you are a Wing Walker….
- Is Your Hair is Tousled by the Wind?
- Do uou turn up at the event without a notebook, pen or even your business cards?
- Do you constantly ask questions about what happens next?
- Do you leave before the event is even half finished because you have a clashing appointment?
- Do you attend each network just the once, with a flash and dash style?
The impression Wing-Walkers create is that they are slapdash, disorganised and distracted.
Is that the message you want people to remember about you and your business?
How to Stop Yourself Going Out on a Limb…
Networking is not about trying every event in your region once. Only choose those events where you can commit to going regularly, so that you really get to know, like and trust the people there. Because until people really get to know you, they won’t refer work to you or buy from you.
So be selective in which groups you attend. Think:
- Will I meet the right sort of people here who will really add to my network?
- Is it a good time for me – is a business breakfast a time of day when I will SHINE?
- Do I want business in this geographical location?
Preparing to Fly
When you’ve booked an event that’s a good fit, then take time to prepare…
- What do you want to achieve at this event?
- Who are you looking to get to know? Ask for a list of the attendees, do some research and highlight people you really want to get to meet
- Mine for Your Business Diamond so you know what to say when people ask “What do you do?”
- Arrive early and initiate conversations – be interested in people
- Book plenty of time in your diary so that you can stay to the end
Get organised, create a plan, do your research, review your results and keep going until it starts to pay off – which may take several months.
If you want to get more business, if you want to get referrals, if you want to create a buzz about your business, then the one thing you really must NOT do when you are networking is to weird people out. Sounds obvious, but believe me, people keep doing this stuff and it creeps people out.
There are 7½ ways to weird people out, so let’s start with the tiny half… Read on and see if you recognise people you have met (or even yourself). Diagnose your networking creep factor and then exploit the tips and action plans to banish them forever.
Mistake #½ The Ninja
You won’t notice the Ninja. They blend in and are invisible. They turn up, their name is on the delegate list, you may even magically have their business card at the end, but no-one remembers the Ninja…
Tell-Tale Signs That You’re a Ninja in the Making….
- You deliberately arrive at the last minute and leave as soon as you can (mumbling your paltry excuses)
- You go to the toilet every ten minutes or so – and spend ages in there each time
- You keep going to get yourself a drink whilst avoiding eye contact with anyone
- You constantly check your phone for messages/ missed calls
- You avoid drawing attention to yourself – by standing at the edges and never saying anything
“If you don’t stand out from the crowd, then you become invisible” Seth Godin
First Steps To Ensuring People Notice You
Give yourself the goal of having just one conversation with someone at the next event. Instead of trying to join a group, look for someone who is standing on their own and is just hoping someone will come and talk to them. They’re nervous too so you already have something in common.
Afterwards see if you can write down this information about them: their name, how they help other people, what problems they have right now and whether or not you would like to meet them to find out more.
How You Can Become Visible
- Go to the toilet and get a drink BEFORE you go networking and don’t do it again unless you absolutely NEED to
- Turn your phone off and leave it off – better still, leave it in your car
- Arrive early and take the initiative – start conversations with something as simple as “is this your first time here?”
- Be the first one on your table to speak
- Ask at least one person at every event if they would like to meet for coffee so that you can get to know each other better
Gradually get to know a few people really well, so you understand them, their business, how they help people, their ideal clients. And they know the same about you.
This is the start of a powerful network for you and your business.