Business Networking was a totally new concept to me eleven years ago when I was living in Devonport in Tasmania. A business colleague invited me along to his BNI Mersey Chapter meeting one early morning in March 2006.
I had never heard of this business concept, but I was curious to know more. I was so nervous, shy and timid back then, but I went along and it just all ‘clicked together in my head’. I could see the benefits straight away to my business which was called ‘Wow House Spruce-ups’. During the next 5 years I held every leadership position in BNI and became a
passionate and experienced networker.
On 17th March 2012, I commenced my very own independent weekly networking group called Networkers Referral Group known as NRG. I wanted to have a networking group that catered for the needs of small business owners and entrepreneurs. I quickly realised that ‘One Size Does Not Fit All’. Small business owners are hard working and a determined lot and they work very long hours for little reward until their businesses begin to ‘take off’. So I set about learning how to network professionally and well.
These are the 10 Common Mistakes Business Networkers Make in their quest to grow their businesses. I hope you find these tips helpful.
- Forget to bring business cards along to a networking meeting
- Arrive late at the event, flustered and apologetic.
- Pounce on people at the event and shove your business card in their hand
- Talk too much about yourself and your business
- Do not dress appropriately for a business event
- Hang out with your friends at the event and do not mix with other people
- Don’t look people in the eye when you are talking to them
- Have a ‘Taker’s Attitude’ rather than ‘How can I help you’ attitude
- Forget to follow up the next day the people that you connected with
- ‘Spam’ people that you met at the event the next day. Totally Uncool.
Networking takes time and practice. You do not become an ‘overnight sensation’.
I suggest that you find a couple of business friends that attend different networking events each month and ask them if you can come along to their next events. They will be pleased of your company and you can then watch what they do and you will gradually grow in confidence and ability quickly when you have someone else who will help you.
Go to a networking event with a purpose
Do not go to just ‘hang out’ and can say ‘ I went to a networking event today’. This is a waste of time and energy and you will not achieve any real results by attending.
I always attend an event with 2-3 different business categories that I would like to connect with. Here are a few of my tips to ensure that your networking event is a success:
- Greet the host/hostess when you arrive by name and give her your business card. Ask, Does she know any business people in one of the categories that you are looking for. If yes, ask for an introduction to that person and take it from there
- If you see a friend at the event, ask them if they know anyone in one of your categories there and ask for an introduction
- Introduce yourself to people that are standing alone, they will be very grateful for you taking an interest in them. Ask them if there is anyone that they would like to meet. If so, introduce them.
- I am only looking for 2-3 quality new introductions at each event. I do not need a heap of people’s business cards. Be strict with yourself here. I always go for quality, not numbers. So much better when this is your Mindset.
- Always thank your host/hostess when you leave and let them know that you met some really interesting people today and it was a successful event for you. Ask them if they could please let you know when they are having their next event. Ask to go on their mailing list. They will think so highly of you if you do this one simple thing. You will stand out from the crowd.
- Now the most important thing to do now is follow up. Follow Up Is King. When you get home, add them into your phone or your CRM system. Phone them in the morning and set up a Coffee Meeting with the people that you wish to connect with
that you met the previous day. You will be only about 1 in 10 people that do this.
Networking is a Commitment
Networking changed the way that I did business forever, way back 11 years ago. I made a decision then, that this was the way that I wanted to build my business and I have learnt how to conduct myself in a very professional manner. I build relationships of trust with people that I meet. I want to know how I can help them and how I can connect them to other people that
they would like to do business with.
If you follow the simple steps outlined in this Blog, I know that you will become an
experienced and confident networker as well.
I did not know 11 years ago when I was living in Devonport that one day I would own my very own independent networking group. I just took one day at a time and learnt the skills from others that were more experienced than I was.
Is it hard you may ask? Yes at times it is. But it also brings so many amazing people into your life that you would never meet otherwise.
If you are a small business owner now, you will be amazed at how it can help you grow your business and become very successful.
Be Bold and become a Successful Business Networker.