Call me Networking Queen. I live by this strategy because I truly believe in the power of networking. Let me rephrase that: I believe in the power of genuine relationships. I used to think that clients magically appear at your office doorsteps or referrals would flood your phone with endless voicemails. This is not the case! Keep in mind, when you are a new business, you pretty much are the new kid on the block. This means that you have to build your own momentum and put your name out there. By out there, I mean get your name out into the community or the places where your buyers/clients frequent the most.
As I became better at networking, these are the lessons I learned:
Go for quality, not quantity:
I used to hand out as many business cards as possible and quickly introduce myself with a simple “Hi, I’m Vicky and I do digital marketing”. Blah, Blah, Blah.This doesn’t work and surely will not get you any leads. Instead, work the room and target about 3-4 people instead of the entire crowd. Get to know the person by asking them questions about their business, personal interests, and family. People will remember you more if you form genuine connections.
Go for the big fish in the room, not the little fish:
At conferences, I used to target small business owners or solo practitioners who were at the early stages of their business or who came to learn a thing or two at the event. Although valuable contacts, I learned that if you want to target individuals that possess a more influential network, you have to target the big fish in the room. These are usually the speakers, host, or event coordinator. Approaching these individuals should seem natural. Please do not over flatter them or ask for autographs. Be yourself.
Never hand out business cards
As paradoxical and this may sound, handing out business cards diminishes your chances of a continuous business relationship. You want people to call you, right? Well, the minute you hand them a business card, you have left it up to fate to decide whether your prospect will call or not. You’ve given away the power. Instead, ask your prospect for his card and inform him that you will shoot him an email with your information. Now you have the power.
Be Bold and Colorful — literally.
I once hosted a show for entrepreneurs and the topic discussed networking. A good friend of mine, Jeff from Junk-A-Haulics, mentioned that he makes it a priority to wear bright, bold, and colorful dress attire in order to stand out. I laughed at the mention of this advice, but then thought how brilliant this idea really is. It makes sense: people remember the most memorable people at the event. If you wear memorable clothing and deliver a professional presentation — you will most likely NOT be forgotten among the dead and rotten.
Trust me, I know these tactics work because I’ve tried them myself and I continue to perfect my networking skills.