The undeniable truth for businesses small and large, is that networking is essential. Connecting to the outside world by establishing relationships and showing what you have to offer is one of the strongest tools you can use to expand. Networking may seem like a difficult practice to keep consistent, however a lot like socializing, if you do it often enough, you might feel more comfortable doing it as time goes on. You could even become an expert with substantial practice.
In this day and age there’s unwritten (for the most part) rules for networking to other businesses and companies. There’s technically no penalty for breaking some of these, and in some specific cases thinking outside the box can get you fast results. However these rules are common knowledge amongst networking groups and conferences. It’s best to be aware and attentive of what proper “networking etiquette”.
Present what you have to offer FIRST. It’s more appropriate for you to do so before finding out what someone else can do for you.
Be civil and professional. It’s best to act how you would like to be remembered by potential clients. You probably want to be remembered as the kind person with potential rather than some unapproachable unprofessional.
Be ready. Sounds self-explanatory, but it’s crucial you’re equipped with everything you need to properly present yourself. This goes for your materials and mentally as well. Elevator pitch, be ready to converse, and have that contact information at arm’s reach.
Be on your best behavior. Again, it sounds like something everyone would know, however getting too comfortable early can lead to reckless acts. You’ll be remembered as someone who acts without thinking or even is untrustworthy.
Know your audience. If it’s a meeting with companies similar to yours then try to relate and even collaborate. If it’s full of people that do things way different than you then be ready to observe share, and learn.
Providing a calm, comforting, and welcoming atmosphere is what’s ideal. These are people that you hope to establish a business relationship with. Being someone memorable is more likely to get you calls back.
Speaking of getting calls back, giving those out is essential. Following up, is simply keeping in contact with those you’ve gotten into your network. What use is networking if you’re just going to keep potential clients and business partners in an address book? Send an email, text message, tweet, DM, call them, and if they don’t pick up leave a quick voicemail. This shows that you’re active, that you take your networking seriously, and that you’re available. Feel free to make things more personal on the follow up. It lets the receiving end know they have nothing to worry about. Follow up calls can be perceived as tedious or even scary if their awaiting approval.
“Hey” rather than standard Hellos.
“Hello!” if you do use hello add an exclamation point, looks vibrant yet casual.
This is especially important if you planned on meeting or you promised/ intended on doing something specific for them. You do not want to be known as someone who can’t keep their promises.
You’re not the only one who talks to people, you have to assume everyone else talks as well. It’s up to you that what they say is something positive. Have it so people put in a good word for you. Not have them warn their associates.
In conclusion, networking is important for various reasons and they all go back to expanding your business. It makes your world bigger, yet smaller at the same time. Bigger when you start talking to companies you’ve probably heard of. Smaller when you find out how many people talk and associate with each other and you start to see familiar faces.