There’s a lot of online chatter about networking. Most business owners know that there are many benefits to having excellent networking skills. Often it’s suggested you head to networking events and make a real effort to connect and build relationships. But networking can happen anywhere and you don’t have to designate a time and place.
If you truly want your business to succeed through some word-of-mouth marketing, then you need to start speaking up anywhere and everywhere. And, as a woman in business, that skill should come naturally. Smart business owners can find a moment in almost any interaction in which to subtly indicate what their offering is.
In reality, you never know if the person you’re interacting with is a new customer or potential business contact. So, whether you’re doing your weekly grocery shop or you’re at an influencer event to discuss new business ideas, always be ready to talk shop to a willing audience. Here’s how to be a professional networker.
Be a little loud and proud
A little bit of bragging can go a long way. But make sure you can substantiate why you’re so great. This means bragging about actual, specific and relevant things. For instance, you can comfortably brag if you’ve recently won an award, joined up with an initiative or merged with a major industry player.
These accomplishments are backed up and happening now, which means they’re noteworthy achievements. You can brag online via blog posts, social media platforms and face-to-face and no-one will think anything’s amiss.
Don’t ever forget
Don’t forget names and faces. Pay attention to the people you meet at events, parties, dinners, conferences and so on. This is not only an impressive personal quality but will also boost your professional image. People like to be remembered. This makes them feel like they made an impression on you.
Their presence impacted you and this makes them feel good. And people who are feeling good are more likely to speak about you and your company in a positive light. What’s more, they’re easier to sell to as they’re receptive to you.
Respond to everything online
Anything that concerns you or your business online is important to you. If people are writing about you or commenting on your latest post or status, engage immediately so you’re seen as involved and invested. Your social media strategy needs to be alive and reactive.
This shows you’re always engaged and ready to chat to your customers, audience and the media. Also post frequently so you remain on top of your brand awareness. By doing these things you stand more of a chance of networking online with new people. These may be strangers who’ve stumbled across your company or they might be friends or followers of one of your customers or business partners.
Don’t judge, just be friendly and open-minded
Not everyone can be judged by what they look like. Looks can be deceiving and sometimes the smartest person in the room is perceived as “not worth your time”. Also, when networking, don’t target only those who you think are new customers or new investors, speak to everyone if possible.
Through those little interactions, you’ll soon have everyone knowing who you are and sometimes a chat with the best friend of a major industry player does more good than hard selling the player themselves.
You need to enter a room or a conversation with the view that everyone has something of value to offer. So, of course, this means you must also have a happy demeanour. A bad attitude will put people off and often you don’t look intimidating or professional, you just look unhappy.
Go to events and follow up with your new contacts
Try to say yes to events, get-togethers and conferences. This is an excellent environment for networking. You’re likely to meet some heavy-hitters in your field, you’ll see what your competitors are up to and you’ll walk away with a wallet full of business cards.
Many of those business cards are of people you should probably contact again. You never know what opportunity that contact could create in the future. And you’re likely to see these people at the next event, so keeping up some comradery is a good idea.