Effective business networking is the bringing together of like minded individuals who, through relationship building, become walking, talking advertisements for one another. When it comes to networking, this is all about building trust, being bona fide, and seeing how your relationship can genuinely help others.
Always figure out before you even walk into a room what your specific goals are in attending each networking meeting. This helps you to pick groups or associations that will help you get what you are looking for.
Ask open-ended questions during your networking conversations – questions that ask who, what, where, when, and how. You need to avoid asking questions that will only have a yes or no response. You can open up the discussion and show listeners that you are interested if you use this line of questioning.
Become a walking resource center. Others would remember to turn to you for suggestions, names of other people, and ideas if you become known as a strong resource person. You will then be kept at the their ‘top of mind.’
Make sure you have your “elevator speech” prepared and know it like the back of your hand. The response that you would give in the amount of time that it would take to reach the tenth floor in an elevator is what is commonly known as elevator speech. Always rehearse your spiel and be genuine, so that you don’t sound automated when you relay it to someone who asks what you do.
You should always be aware of what is going on in current affairs. If you don’t feel comfortable just rolling into a spiel when you first meet someone, have a back up topic to break the ice until you do.
Never just throw your business card at someone the minute you meet them, you must get to know the person and their business as well as explaining your business before you even contemplate a business card exchange. Otherwise, it will reflect badly on your business if people find you to be rude, unprofessional, and pushy.
Always phone or email your new contacts and let them know that you enjoyed meeting them. If possible, you can even mention things that you have discussed on a more personal note such as telling them that you hoped they would enjoy the movie they are going to see that night. People will form a trust with you because they will come to know you as someone who listens and remembers them.
You need to remember the most important thing and that is to quickly and efficiently follow through on referrals that you are given. If referrals are given to you by people, then a reflection on them are your actions. Respect and honor their trust and your referrals will grow exponentially.