Preparing for Business Networking
Make Networking Feel Like A Walk On The Beach!
This is Part Two of the Relationship Networking Series. Are you comfortable walking into a room full of strangers? Networking is a scary activity for most people because it doesn’t come naturally. For solopreneurs, it requires focus and attention. It is a skill that must be developed and practiced. This piece will focus on preparing for business networking.
My Goal for You is that you will shed all your uncertainties about networking and that you find people who:
- Encourage you
- Listen with empathy
- Teach you
- Promote you
- Challenge your thinking
- Inspire you
- Humour you
- Pass on useful information
- And most of all that want to do business with you
Isn’t this list what we all hope for?
What is Networking and Why do we do it?
As solopreneurs, we think of networking as a way to get the word out about what we do and to find potential customers.
A lot of people think of networking as marketing, selling or working a room; but it’s really more about building relationships. Well, how does one build relationships in a networking sense? You get to know people more than superficially – you learn something about who she is – her dreams, her joys, her fears, her talents, her challenges and her business offering.
We know that to do business with someone we need to feel a degree of trust in that person. Exchanging a greeting at a mixer once in awhile or having coffee once isn’t really enough. To build that trust we need to get involved with him in some way. We observe all the rites of good friendship and demonstrate our loyalty. It’s important to remember that relationships require frequent care and attention!
Here is the nicest definition of networking I’ve found: “Networking is -using your creative talents to help others achieve their goals as you cultivate a network to support you in your goals – expecting nothing in return.” Larry James
Lawrence Bold defines a network as “an informal trading exchange…. an exchange that trades in trust and goodwill. If trust is the commodity traded in a network, then reputation is the currency of exchange”
There are many types of networking:
- Networking Mixers or MeetUps
- Informal social gatherings
- One-on-one business or personal connections
- Online Social Media
Don’t be in a rush – give it some thought – Seek some clarity
I’ve observed people attending mixers without the answers to the following questions. This is what makes them feel nervous and shy – They know they will get questions for which they have no answers as yet. Sit down with pen and paper and answer these questions. If you need help with this, find a business coach.
Things to consider before we even think about networking
- What is the name of your business? What is your tagline?
- What service (or product) do you provide? What do you charge for them?
- Who is your target client? Be specific here.
- What is your value proposition?
(Value proposition is a clear statement that explains how your product solves customers’ problems or improves their situation, delivers specific benefits, and tells the ideal customer why they should buy from you and not from the competition.)
- What business values and operating principles are important to you?
- What is your marketing plan? What steps are you taking to ensure that your prospects know about you? How will you connect with them? Are you using a website, brochures, rack cards, business cards, social media site?
- How will your prospects connect with you? Face to face, phone, website, e-mail, texting?
Mindset Monday Challenge
Try saying out loud your answers to those question. How does it feel? Is it time to return to the drawing board and write up a simplified Business Plan?
Share your networking experiences in the comments below.