If you’re in business and you still haven’t gotten out to network, you really are missing out. For some people, networking comes easily while others would rather put needles in their eyes. Understandably, since networking will push you out of your comfort zone. However, this only happens when you overthink it and put pressure on yourself. So, how can you become more comfortable at a networking event?
Start by asking yourself, how can I bring value? The first and most sincere way to bring value to people is by being yourself. Be authentic with the services you’re offering. Make sure you’re honestly caring about their pain points. Sometimes you’ll find that maybe it isn’t you who’s supposed to help that individual, but maybe you know someone who can. Finding solutions for them is key in networking.
If you want to increase sales, networking is truly one of the easiest ways to do so. However, you must first understand that networking is not the same as selling. You are there to first build a relationship. Get them to know you, trust you, and eventually, they will do business with you.
So, yes, this means that it will take a bit of time and commitment to various networks before you can see the benefits. When you are networking, remember, you are there to meet people. To identify opportunities and synergies. Not to simply push your product/services. I’m sure you’ve seen the person who goes beyond the elevator pitch and is constantly talking about their company. How do they come across?? Yeah, you guessed it. Annoying. No one wants to talk to a person who is constantly bragging.
Here are seven additional ideas to make you more comfortable and can be helpful for networking:
1. Join groups that you would be interested in joining.
Part of being authentic is doing things that you love. If you’re going to a networking event that you have no interest in, then you may want to question why are you in that industry. Align yourself and your business with what you truly love. Also, there are other non-business networking events that can provide plenty of opportunities by word of mouth. For example, if you like to run, join a running group; if you like to play bridge, join a bridge group; if you would like to go to church, become a member of a congregation. Joining a group just for the sake of networking doesn’t generally work.
2. Volunteer to speak at events.
Speaking opportunities often make it easier to meet people and network. It’s also a great way to bring value to your audience. Share what you know and provide value to larger groups at a time. You can start by speaking to small groups and then, in time, you can become more selective and speak to larger groups. Toastmasters is an excellent group to join to improve your speaking ability as well as another networking opportunity.
3. Write articles.
There is something that makes someone seem like an expert when they write an article on a specific topic. Articles are easy to write if you are passionate about what you are writing about. There are also hundreds of publications that are hungry for material. Again, you will have to start small with local publications and work up to other publications. If no one has published you, try using free online services like Medium, or social media publishing platforms, like LinkedIn, or simply create your own blog (which can be a great networking tool on its own).
4. Use and maintain your CRM
A CRM is a Customer Relationship Management system used to manage your customer’s information. There are some free tools you can use like Zoho, Hubspot, and Insightly or get more advanced and paid services like Salesforce and SugarCRM. These kinds of tools can be very helpful with gathering, not only names and address, but also a few points of interest about the person or their business.
5. Keep in touch with people by email.
There are so many businesses focused on social media and creating content, but not utilizing email to communicate further with their audience. It’s becoming more and more customary to meet someone and follow them online. However, with so much content being pushed on social media, how can you really build a relationship with that person if you don’t reach out to them directly? Here’s another great question; What would happen if all of the social media platforms disappeared tomorrow? Do you have a way to communicate with your followers? This is the importance of building your database. The best way to do this is to know what interests the people have and then send them personalized emails or notes with articles of interest attached. Do this with no intention of them buying but the more they know you, the more they will tend to buy. Also, create an email campaign strategy and a plan to communicate with your network.
6. Be generous.
Connecting to various networks is also a good way to make an impact in your community. Don’t just show up, but also ask how can you help? There are so many opportunities for brands to give back to the community. Either with time or money. Sponsorships can help raise brand awareness, but it also can go towards making a difference for organizations or events that are bringing value to others. If you can’t sponsor, consider donating your time. Pick a group, get connected, and give back.
7. If you are going to be out there, work the room.
What we mean by this is why go to a function and only sit with the people you already know. No need to sit in the corner when you can mingle with new people and get to know them. This skill does not come naturally to introverted people; however, it is something that can be easily learned by stepping out of your comfort zone. People tend to buy from people they know. Become more known and sell more.
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Project Z is an event marketing and branding strategy agency based in Houston, TX. Our mission is to maximize our clients’ event marketing dollars and provide all the resources available to help them execute effective event campaigns. Our strategic solutions elevate brand awareness and deliver results that provide memorable interactive experiences. For more information about our services, to list your event, or for event invites please email firstname.lastname@example.org