Networking to generate leads
Not everyone loves networking, but it’s an essential part of growing your enterprise.
People like doing business with those they know, so you need to get out there. It’s not as daunting as it may seem and CCIWA makes it easy with a calendar of regular networking events. Check here for upcoming events.
Here’s what you need to do
- Prepare: What areas of your business do you need to develop? Once you have an answer to this question, you can choose which networking events will put you in contact with the right people. Be selective, rather than a serial attendee. Don’t be too casual – it’s not strictly a social occasion. You should arrive at each event with at least one contact you wish to make.
- Use psychology to your advantage: Psychologists will tell you most people’s favourite topic of conversation is themselves. Use this to your advantage. Choose a “target” for your next networking event. Beforehand, check their LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook accounts to learn about their business and personal interests. Look for common ground which may help you strike up a conversation. Try not to make it obvious you have studied them. You want to appear interested, not creepy. Then practise the art of being a good listener – some suggest you follow an 80-20 rule. That is, you should speak about 20 per cent of the time. People will not only remember you positively, you will learn a lot by actively listening. Not many do.
- Get to know the organisers: Event organisers can be invaluable contacts. Take the time to touch base and thank them.
- Set goals: If you are anxious about networking set simple goals. Perhaps make one new contact or stay for 45 minutes. Don’t set yourself up for failure by setting your expectations too high.
- Follow up: Once you have made a new contact and wish to stay in touch, don’t just update them on your Sign up to Google news alerts to make sure you’re in the loop on any developments with their business. Remember any shared interests as touch points.
- Be a regular: Social psychologists acknowledge a “familiarity principle”, which means the more often we see a person, the more likeable we generally think that person to be. So just turning up can be a positive.
- Don’t: There are a few things to avoid. Don’t throw your business cards around like confetti. Offer them only if there is a connection you wish to follow up. Try to avoid staying with familiar faces all night, but balance that by taking the time to invest in genuine conversation. No one likes to feel that others are looking over their shoulder for someone more interesting.