Marketing executives use it as a key tool for their success. Financial consultants use it to obtain new clients and make it a part of their overall business strategies. Retail industry players see it as a necessary effort to expand their business. What is it? It’s networking, and in the world of meetings and events, people network to help connect with others in the industry.
Whether you are the owner of a meeting and events firm or a corporate meeting planner, experts agree, networking is for everyone.
While networking can be beneficial, how you network and with whom are vital to the success of your networking efforts. It is human nature to congregate with people who are very much like us. The bottom line is that we tend to hang out with people who have experiences or perspectives similar to ours. Often, most of our friends and associates are friends and associates with each other as well. The problem with this is that when we surround ourselves with people who have similar contacts, it may be difficult to make connections with new people or the companies we desire to do business with.
So what are some of the best networking techniques? Try some of these simply ways to network and see where it takes your business.
10 Networking Tips
- Find your niche. You need to find your niche and the people that fit your business. Once you find your market then concentrate on becoming involved, be a regular so they see your face constantly and be reliable. You are your product. If they trust you and your dependability, it shows them that your company is also dependable.
- Share new ideas. When networking, you adopt new methods for success within your own position through the sharing of new ideas and approaches to issues.
- Evaluate your surroundings. Attend an organization’s events and interview existing members. Ask them what they like about being a member and their strategy for getting the most out of their membership. Also, assess what benefits both tangible and intangible that you will receive for your membership and event fees.
Most organizations allow you to participate without becoming a member for a period of time. This will ensure you have joined the right group for your business.
- Diversify, diversity, diversify. You need breadth and depth. Participate in different kinds of groups. You should also consider networking with companies with a common connection to your products and services..
- Work on those referrals. Referrals are, and will be for the foreseeable future, all about relationships. People refer people they know and trust. They won’t regularly refer someone just because they’re listed on a Web site—that’s called advertising, not networking.
- Don’t oversell. Bring business cards, only. Don’t come with brochures, pamphlets, and gimmicks. People don’t want to carry these brochures or packets around with them. They will most likely throw them away or just set them down and forget to pick them back up.
- Develop your contact spheres. These are a groups of business professionals who have a symbiotic or compatible, noncompetitive relationship with you. In any networking situation look to make two to three solid contacts with whom you can learn something special about the other person—both from a personal and business perspective.
- Being prepared. Prepare effective introductions and presentations to give to other business professionals at networking events and meetings.
- Be very specific about what referrals you want. Identify specific people to whom you wish to be introduced. Personal introductions can open doors for you that would’ve otherwise remained closed.
- Checkout online networking. Visit sites such as LinkedIn.com for networking opportunities. It’s another great tool that helps people connect with others, especially outside their local geographic area.