I spent over 20 years working for a few major brand name organizations and people interacted with me professionally because of these brand affiliations. I have since pursued my dream of being self employed and the first piece of advice I was given was to become good at networking. This was a great tip…, but how do I become good at networking?
Your take away from this post will be 9 quick tips I have been given by my mentors and from (sometimes painful) trial and error that has helped me improve my networking skills:
- Get out of your office- sitting at your desk will not help improve your networking skills or enable you to grow your business.
- Get involved –
- Join organizations within your industry and become an active member of the organization on a committee or leadership role.
- Get involved in organizations or causes you have a passion for and enjoy.
- Find organizations to participate in that will partner you with people that have ‘like interests’.
- Create your own personal brand- who are you and what can you do for the person you are speaking with.
- Refine your ‘elevator’ speech and be able to articulate in 20 words or less what you do and your value proposition. Make sure you communicate with family, friends and neighbors-what you can do for them and how can help you.
- Give referrals–understand the needs of others and offer referrals…unsolicited!
- Ask for referrals–do not be afraid to ask your family, friends, neighbors, customers and vendor partners if they know anyone that could benefit from your product or service.
- Understand and become active in Social Networking –
- Groups within your industry and your interests
- When you attend events –
- Overcome your fear by setting a specific goal for meeting people at the event (i.e. 3 new people)
- Make a good first impression
- Spend more time listening than talking
- Spend more time learning about the other person/organization and their needs than sharing about you
- Bring your business cards
- Follow-up with everyone that you meet
Networking has not only helped me grow my business, it has helped me grow as a professional. It was scary at first to no longer have a brand name behind me. Now, I am pleased that people know me for who I am, what I have accomplished and what I can do for them in the future.
So, let’s get out there and network. I hope these ‘quick tips’ help you as we all set our sights on a successful 2012 and beyond!
“I like to define networking as cultivating mutually beneficial, give-and-take, win-win relationships… The end result may be to develop a large and diverse group of people who will gladly and continually refer a lot of business to us, while we do the same for them.” Bob Burg- Speaker/Author
If you enjoyed this article, you may also be interested in “Holiday Networking for Hospitality Industry Professionals”.