If you sign-on to Meetup.com, you’ll find there are approximately 130,000 Meetups (884 within 25 miles of my office) happening at any given time that represent opportunities to network and build great new relationships.
With this over-abundance of networking opportunities at our disposal, why do many small business owners struggle to make networking work for them?
The short answer is that most are not prepared for success when they walk through the door. Yes, networking can be time-consuming, frustrating and expensive if you don’t take the time to adequately prepare in advance.
As my good friend Jeff Klein, the author of ’30 Seconds to Success’ and the founder of Speaker Coop says, “There are only two reasons to network – to get referrals and give referrals”.
Pretty simple, right? So where’s the disconnect? It goes back to planning and preparation, or a lack thereof. You know what I’m talking about! You’ve stood in the line, much like I have, and watched people make their way to the back so they can figure out what they are going to say when it comes time to do their 30-second introductions.
If you don’t have a solid game plan to reach your intended targets you can spend a lot of time, energy and resources ‘bobbing for apples’, with little or no return on the investment. Here are some specific DO’s and DON’Ts to enable you to make networking a successful and fun part of your prospecting and business development activities.
DO … Have a game plan! Do your homework and planning upfront and come prepared to conduct business.
DON’T … Be a ‘wandering generality’ and just bounce around the room with no direction when you are there.
DO … Have fun and SMILE!
DON’T … Show up in a bad mood, distracted or unprepared.
DO … Know your audience and tailor your message to reach them.
DON’T … Leave it up to the attendees to figure out what you do and try to interpret your value proposition.
DO … Identify 3-5 high-value targets (i.e. future clients, partners, suppliers) and start building those key intentional relationships.
DON’T … Be a business card collector.
DO … ‘Rock the house’ with your 30-second introduction. Prepare and practice your sales message in advance.
DON’T … Be a back-of-the-liner and just “Spray and Pray.”
DO … Have a compelling offer to grab their attention.
DON’T … Come to the meeting empty-handed.
DO … Ask for what you want.
DON’T … Be ambiguous about your desired outcome.
DO … Schedule a minimum of 2-3 follow-up meetings with your high-value targets.
DON’T … Leave empty handed.
DO … Follow-up with ‘Thank You’ notes and stay engaged.
DON’T … Leave the next steps to chance.
Effective networking is synonymous with profitability and growth. It’s about fully exploring ways to accelerate the expansion of your business through purposeful planning and building intentional relationships with other success-minded business owners to achieve better performance and sustainable results.
So, get your head out of the water trough and stop bobbing for apples. Do the planning and preparation required to make networking a highly rewarding part of your business development activities.
Enjoy the journey!
COPYRIGHT © 2015 John Carroll