It’s hard to find a great entrepreneur who is not a smart networker. The old saying “It’s not about what you know, it’s who you know” probably holds true even today. Some might argue further saying “It’s NOT who you know but who knows you.” Either way, you get the point rt?
I always knew networking was necessary, but just didn’t make the time to network because networking can be time-consuming and a lot of hard work. But now I have made it a point to attend at least one networking event every month.
I still believe “face-to-face” networking is far more efficient than online networking any day.
Once you make the initial move, many people realize that networking can be a lot of fun and can yield life-long friendships and some good business.
Here’s a list of some habits of professional networkers that separate them from the rest.
1. They know what they are looking for
A professional networker knows what they are looking for. I recently went to a business conference that was attended by several investment bankers and venture capitalists, the reason for me to attend the event was to find investors for one of my businesses.
Even if you live in a small town, there are so many events happening that it is almost impossible and even ineffective to attend every event, it makes sense to know what exactly you are looking for and choose events accordingly.
Knowing what you want is a good time management exercise.
Once you meet people at an event, follow-up with an email, add them on LinkedIn or Facebook or one of your social networks. This way whenever you update your status on your social networks, they will be in the loop about what is happening in your professional life.
3. Relax and enjoy yourself
Look at networking as a way to make friends rather than a sales pitch. Most people like to do business with people who they like and trust. So, your purpose should be getting to know each other. This does not mean you shouldn’t talk about what you sell.
By all means, talk about what you do and what you sell, but just don’t be too pushy.
If I see that someone is remotely interested in what I do, I go for it and talk as much as I can about my services. But if I figure out that the person is not interested then I don’t push it, I just let it go.
The idea is to let things come up naturally rather than try to be an encyclopedia salesman.
Remember, your purpose here is to get to know each other first, before you do business together.
4. It’s about quality NOT quantity
I know, this is a cliched statement but what does it mean? It means you only need one or two relevant people to make your time (of attending the event) worthwhile. A conference I attended many years ago, I collected over 30 business cards, I think it was 32 to be exact.
Out of 32, I am in touch with just two people, one is a debt investor, and the other is an entrepreneur.
I ended up doing business with them after nearly two years of knowing them.
Remember, each person is a network, and if they don’t give you business, they could at least give you some referrals.
It is unlikely that you are going to be in touch with all the people you meet, there are some people with whom you will hit it off and many others you won’t. So, just relax, be yourself and let nature take its course.
Networking is no different from making friends in middle school; it’s just that once we grow older, many of us forget to make new friends.