When starting up a business, there are many different tasks that need to be completed in order to be successful. One of the most powerful tasks that can be incorporated into the weekly routine is to get out and network in your local area. This activity can be the difference that gets you to the next level because not only does it provide great opportunities for you to interact with potential prospects, but you are also likely to connect with and establish relationships with potential referral partners.
Professional networking typically takes place every week in a number of local events in most major cities. There are typically events that are related to the community, tied to the industry that your business falls under, and there are also events that are simply based on the premise of networking alone. By doing some research, one could easily fill up their calendar with a handful of events to attend and by going to these, you will greatly expand your network and sphere of influence.
As previously mentioned, when you go to events, you are likely to meet both potential prospects and potential referral partners. Prospects are people that could eventually buy from you one day and referral partners are people that aren’t very likely to buy from you but more so have potential to send business to you. When starting up a business, you should go to these events with a very open mind not trying to sell anything and just trying to establish connections and work toward a goal of one-on-one meetings at some point after the event when it makes sense.
Here are some other tips to keep in mind when networking:
Always be Open-Minded
Always be open to who you approach and invest time talking to at networking events. It is important to always remember that you can’t judge a book by its cover so just because someone does not look like a potential prospect does not mean anything.
And even when someone is clearly does not have potential to be a prospect, you never know who they know and who is in their network. Keep in mind that when you meet someone, you potentially create access to everyone that they know and this makes just about everyone worth talking to at least a little bit.
It Needs to be All About Them
As soon as you begin talking to someone either at a networking event or at a scheduled meet up, try to make a conscious effort to focus the conversation on them. You can do this by focusing the conversation on talking about who they are and what they are doing from a business standpoint.
When starting up a business, you can use concept of reciprocation which starts with trying to help others instead of selling your products and this can be very powerful for two key reasons. First, it will lower the other person’s guard as they will feel like you are not trying to sell anything because you are putting so much attention on them. Secondly, you are investing time and interest on them and this can help to motivate them to want to invest time and interest on you to return the favor.
These two factors combined can establish a foundation of rapport that a strong networking relationship can be built on.
Give a Brief Value Statement
If you are starting up a business, you need to be able to provide a very brief statement on the value that you have to offer when people ask you what you do. Many entrepreneurs answer this with a description of their products and services. When networking, try to focus on the value that you deliver instead of the products that you sell.
Schedule a Future Discussion
If there is any hint that the person you are talking to can bring value to your network, work to tee up a future discussion. A great next step to work toward is a one-on-one meet-up over coffee approximately a week or two later.
Have you been using professional networking while starting up a business?
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