Networking doesn’t come naturally to everyone right away. People get better and better at networking with practice, and with learning all they can to become better networkers. If you ask people for tips on networking, they may all give you different answers. Different things work for different people, but there are some underlying principles that will work for pretty much everyone.
#1: Don’t sell
Networking is about getting to know people, not about making sales. Don’t feel as though the night was not successful if you did not make a deal, and don’t write people off if you don’t think they are going to buy from you. Relationships on their own are valuable, getting to be known in the Ottawa business community is valuable, and you never know who may end up knowing someone who DOES want to buy from you!
There is no better way to exhaust yourself than to run from person to person at an event, blasting out your elevator pitch at full steam. It’s also a good way to annoy others. Practice listening, not just nodding while you plan what you are going to say next. Process what people are saying, and make an attempt to remember it for the next time you see them.
#3: Value people
As networking isn’t about sales, you should have some real interest in people, and not just what they can do for you. Each person you meet has a unique story: where they came from, how they got started, and what makes them a success. You can value them for the advice they may give, or for the valuable market research potential they provide (when you ask them about their pain points and if they feel your product or service would be beneficial to them).
#4: Be prepared to give
If you don’t ask, you may never receive, but what’s more important is for you to be ready to help others. If someone asks you for something, or even if you sense that people may take you up on an offer, you could end up being a hero for lending a helping hand. This doesn’t mean you have to give out free products or services, but it may mean that you lead them to a good new connection, or give them a tip or advice that they need. Gradually you will find that you are reciprocated with the statement: “Now how can I help you?”
#5: Be approachable
We talk about facial expressions and body language all the time. It is important to smile and be relaxed so that people feel comfortable walking up to you and saying hello. Being approachable is also about the conversations you have with others. If people see that you are easy to talk to, they will be more likely to introduce themselves.
#6: Think outside the event
Think networking only happens four times a year, at each eSAX event? It’s a nice thought, but networking can happen anytime, anywhere. You may see someone in the grocery store that you met at an event, and you’ll have to remember that relationship-building is a continuous process. Always be “on-brand”, which means that you always want to be a good representation of yourself and your business.
#7: Be trustworthy
Relationships are based on trust, which means successful networking requires you to be a most trustworthy person. Be genuine, authentic, and sincere in all you say and do to establish yourself as a trustworthy person. Anything else will undermine your efforts and undo all the hard networking you’ve done.
Concentrate on these principles of networking, and make sure to get your tickets to the next eSAX Ottawa networking event!