Does the idea of ‘networking’ scare you stiff or bore you stupid (or both)? The Sydney International Spa & Beauty Expo is an extraordinary opportunity to meet people from the same and related businesses to yours, who may one day be useful to you or connect you with someone who will be there at the right time with advice, business referrals or, well, who knows. But if the term ‘selling yourself’ makes your skin crawl, you may find Sydney networking coach Sean Grobbelaar’s tips on effective networking both soothing and motivating.
The Attitude of Successful Networkers
It seems that some people who pay to attend a networking event just want to get back their entry cost. It might not be a conscious decision, but the way people interact with others at networking events may not be helping them or their business.
When you attend any event, you need to let go of your expectations for any outcome and just be friendly, sincere and interested in learning about people. You’ll automatically make people around you feel more accepted and appreciated. That way you’ll be more effective at building business relationships.
Successful networkers attend networking events with the understanding that networking is a two way street. People want to get something, but people also have something to offer.
Successful networkers choose to develop strong and mutually beneficial relationships by giving first, because they know that people are more likely to give back (twice fold) and invest back into the relationship if you give first rather than try sell them something.
‘A Trait of a Successful Networker is the Attitude of GIVING’
Making referrals and recommendations on behalf of others is a critical activity in networking and probably something most of us don’t do enough of because we’re too busy with our own issues. But it’s important to make the effort and bring people within your network close together.
If you are not getting referrals, it’s because you are not giving them. When you become known as a go-to person, everyone will want to ask for a recommendation or be recommended by you, and your circle of influence will grow. Give generously and don’t keep score.
Approach each new introduction with the attitude of giving. It is about building relationships. Perhaps you can recommend a great book or website, share an article or share a connection to a resource or to an organisation?
Maybe you can make a valuable introduction. Can you connect someone to a friend, to a business or to a customer?
What you say to other people in conversation; how you say it, how you ask questions, how you don’t; when to speak up, when not to; etc. will have a direct effect on your networking success.
Enter the room with confidence, stand up straight and smile. Look for a friendly face and introduce yourself. If you don’t see an opportunity to meet someone right away, don’t panic. A surefire way to strike up a conversation is to get in a line (to sign in, for food, for drinks, for the restrooms).
You can also approach the person hosting the event and ask for an introduction. In addition, if the list of attendees is available prior to the meeting you can identify someone you would like to meet and approach someone to ask if the person you are looking for is at the meeting.
Instead of trying to be interestING (focusing on the ‘ing’) be interestED (focus on the ‘ed’) in the person you are talking with. You don’t have to worry about what you will say (except for your brief pitch which comes later). In fact, make it a goal to talk as little as possible, I promise you will be remembered as a marvellous conversationalist. Memorise this phrase: ‘Tell me more about…’ and use it! Just relax, be yourself and listen.
That initial conversation should be about understanding your prospects’ problems, needs and concerns, and collecting their contact information. The objective of networking is not to expound on your credentials.
Spend the time you have with prospects (or people who might know a prospect) asking questions and collecting information. Then you can determine whether they would have any genuine interest in/need for the solutions you provide.
Networking is a contact sport, the more you network the better you become.