Do you find yourself asking is networking really worth it, or is it a waste of time and money? In this week’s article, we’re going to teach you how to network successfully and how to generate leads and sales. Whether you’re a coworker, a member of a business group or attend events occasionally, this article will help you get value out of networking events.
BUSINESS CARD APPS
You should take business cards from everyone you encounter, but instead of losing them, there’s an app that allows you to add all of them to your phone contacts automatically. New technology and apps make it simple for you to pick out the various fields on the card and apply multiple languages, almost perfectly. One great example is Abbyybcr. You can then use the LinkedIn app to send a request to all your new contacts. We’ll go into more detail on following up with the connections you make below.
If you’re worried about the cost, remember networking is a tax-deductible expense. For example, if there’s an expensive entry fee to an industry event, don’t let it discourage you from going because you’ll have the opportunity to meet plenty of potential clients and partners.
EVALUATE THE VALUE OF A PERSON IN 45 SECONDS
In the first 45 seconds of your conversation, you need to make an assessment. Ask yourself if the person you’re talking to is valuable to you or if you’ll you be grateful for having made the connection with this person. If not, don’t be afraid to politely excuse yourself and move on. Some people can be chatty and keep you going for 15 to 20 minutes, which is a problem if they provide you no value from a business standpoint. Similarly, there are hidden treasures - people who are there but might not start the conversation with you. Perhaps they’re shy, new to networking or need to read this article, but they have the potential to become a big client. By distancing yourself from the big talkers, you can get around to everyone.
LISTEN AS WELL AS TALKING
It can be easy to constantly turn the conversation back to yourself when talking to someone new. And it’s true, there’s almost no point in going to a networking event just to hear about others. But everyone is thinking the same and if you want to engage people and want them to listen to you, you need to lead them into speaking about themselves, at least a little!
GIVE, GIVE, GIVE!
If everyone goes to a networking event with the mindset “what business can I get today?”, you’re not going to reach maximum success. It’s similar to putting two salespeople on a call, for example, that are both trying to sell to each other but neither are interested in buying. In order to engage with someone, tell them what they want to hear. When people are telling you what they do, start thinking about what they could be useful for. Even if you can’t think of someone specific, you could imply that you have friends, colleagues, and acquaintances who will find their product or service useful. This can seriously play to your advantage because not only will you make their day, but you’ll appear a lot more interesting and useful to them.
Following up with the new connections you make might seem slightly obvious, but it is so essential when making new connections. Send that follow up email, call, or text, within 24 hours; that way if you need to connect in the future you’ll be remembered. As mentioned earlier, a LinkedIn connection is great. You’ll be in their feed with your content and that’s all you need. For someone you had a really good conversation with that holds potential, don’t hesitate to send them a message saying how great it was to meet and speak with them. If you offered them a lead, send them information about it. If you want to sell them something, consider postponing with some small talk so you don’t come across so strong. Or if you think you’re in a position to get straight to the point, then go for it!
These are just some of the many ways that you can succeed and feel good about your networking skills. One of the best things about working at OneCoWork is your ability to not only attend weekly events allowing you to network, but you can network every day by just coming to the office. Talk with our community managers about the events happening here at OneCoWork or check out the Events section on our webpage! Networking is simple when you remember to be yourself, listen to your peers, and go the extra mile to keep a relationship with them.
Bridget Sleap is the newest member of the OneCoWork team. Originally from New York, she majors in Communications & PR and is launching her career into media and journalism.