In the world of social media there is an enormous amount of networking that can be successfully achieved online, on sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and so on. Each one offers a different chat and business networking opportunity. Which platform are your ideal clients most likely to be using? It is probably best to start building your online presence here first.
You need to have a clear strategy before you start and it’s a great idea to watch how others are doing it before you leap in with both feet. There is an etiquette that you need to follow depending on which social media platform you chose to use. I shared with you some of my favourite marketeers last week on Facebook; Alicia Cowan, Cassie Hicks Kerr and Grace Marshall who have all helped me establish and achieve my social media networking goals.
However, face to face business networking is still my favourite and most natural way of networking, as a teacher and mentor I am motivated by meeting and talking to people. Also as you build your business it is good to collaborate with local people.
Some may say that business networking is the most daunting part of setting up a new business, but do you find talking to your friends and family about your new venture daunting? Probably not, but you have unknowingly started networking.
The chances are that they will share your news with their friends and family when relevant and so your network begins. Personal recommendations and referrals are so powerful. Often there is a slow burn to networking, so don’t expect immediate results but equally don’t allow yourself to miss a trick. If you can follow up from a recommendation or a meeting, do it.
There are a host of face to face business networking opportunities from joining your local Athena Group, BNI Group, Entrepreneur’s Circle or Chamber of Commerce. It’s important to think about your target audience, who you want to meet and therefore which group might suit you most. Remember that you aren’t always selling to the business people in the room but more often to their clients and contacts.
Would you like to network in the morning, in the afternoon, with just women or with mixed groups. Think about how much you want to invest financially, as there will be an investment of money as well as your time.
How to Introduce Yourself at a Business Networking Meeting
So you are in a networking meeting with a potential client – because everyone is a potential client and they ask you what you do … please, please, please avoid saying, “I’m an Image Consultant”, or “I’m a Personal Stylist” – as these are statements rather than conversation starters.
Think of something different to say: eg “I help people save time and money”, “I help people always make the right first impression” or “I specialise in helping people gain more confidence”.
These statements are far more powerful, plus the listener is more likely to ask further questions rather than run away! Share the benefits of what you do and have some anecdotes up your sleeve.
Remember my blog on the Elevator Pitch? – have a read if you haven’t already
If you have any questions or want some advice please call or email me; but please go out there and start talking!