As an entrepreneur, one of the most important skills you can learn is how to network…effectively. Lots of people think that they know how to network when all they really do is leave a bad impression and then wonder why none of their efforts and converting into clients.
As a business coach, one of the things I teach my clients is how to master the art of networking in an easy and effortless way, it doesn’t have to be tough or boring or feel awkward, if it does, then you are doing it wrong.
Here are my 5 best ways to use networking to grow your business and get more clients.
Pay full attention
I can’t tell you how many times I have seen people chatting to someone at a networking event whilst looking over their shoulder to find the next person to speak to. Even if you don’t mean it to, the message that sends the person you are talking to is that they aren’t very important and you are waiting to move onto someone who is. Not a good move in life or business.
When you are speaking to someone, pay full attention, make eye contact and really engage with them.
Ask engaging questions
People love talking about themselves, especially at networking or industry events, to make the most of this, ask people questions that show you are actively listening to them. Instead of just smiling and nodding, reference things they have just said such as “I loved your point about ….. how do you find that affects your clients?” or “That sounds interesting, what made you decide to launch that business?”
You might not realize it, but asking people engaging questions forms a bond and makes them feel valued and heard, things that we all essentially want to get from a business or social relationship.
Lead with the benefits of working with you
I say this all the time in my training programs. People care what is in it for them. Unless you are a brain surgeon or a lawyer, people don’t buy your qualification, they buy YOU and what they get from working with you.
When someone asks you what you do, lead with the benefits, it’s what they most want to hear about. “I show small business owners how to increase their profits in 30 days or less” is much more interesting than “I run my own consultancy firm, specializing in small business owners
Ask for what you want
This might sound obvious, but you have to ask for what you want in both life and business because no one is going to read your mind and do it for you. Want to get a coffee meeting with the prospect you are chatting to ? Ask! Want to set up a time to chat about a joint venture with a business owner in the same area as you? INVITE THEM.
I was consulting with a new business owner recently who had a massive problem asking people to do business with them. The result? They didn’t have nearly enough clients because they didn’t want to seem too pushy.
Take control of your business and ask for what you want.
Make sure you are with the right people
A key factor to look at is who you are actually networking with. Ideally you should be very clear about the sort of people you are engaging with.
A networking venture for joint venture partners is very different from one that aims to sign new clients. If you are going to networking events with your peers (other coaches, consultants or business owners in your industry) then you would be very ill advised to try and sell them your services if they are after the same ideal market as you.
A great piece of advice I can give you is to get really clear on the sort of networking you are setting out to do and make sure that you are around the people who can engage with you in that way.
Which of these strategies stood out for you the most? I would love to hear from you in the comments below or through my website www.ryanjameslock.com.
Ryan James lock is the founder of www.beingyourownpublicist.com and coaches entrepreneurs and small business owners on overcoming limiting beliefs while growing their business and raising their profile. Sign up for weekly Mindset coaching and PR strategies on www.beingyourownpublicist.com and receive your FREE audio coaching program! You can like his Face Book page for more strategies and coaching here.
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