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Networking is something very important to ensure that your business succeeds. You’ve probably heard it said that “it’s who you know, not what you know” that makes you a success. While it’s not really true completely, it is helpful to know people and to make your business known to others. Whether you network with peers, your audience or educators, it’s nice to learn habits that can make the experience more enjoyable.
Communication takes two people - a person with a message and the person deciphering the message. It’s up to the person who is giving the message to speak in a way that the receiver can understand the message. So, it’s up to you to practice delivering the message you want your audience to hear in the right way.
Don’t go into any networking event without a plan, but don’t be so rigid that you’re not natural. It is okay to divert a little from the plan if it’s ultimately giving you a result that you wanted when you set your goals for the event. A plan of action is going to see you through the event in a more successful way than just going in blind.
The networking events that you want to attend should be focused on the needs of your business so that you can reach your goals. Attend events that have a purpose such as connecting you with the right people who can help your business grow. Plus, you want to go into it with the idea that you can also provide value.
It’s important that you know in advance how you’ll introduce yourself and talk about your business to each person you meet. You don’t want to sound like a broken record, though, so don’t memorize one line - instead understand everything you can about your business and your audience so that you can easily let people you meet know what you do in a way that that person will remember.
Depending on the type of event, you can create an attraction hook that will help people remember you. Some people are known from their brightly colored hair, or funny shirts, or a particular catchphrase. Ensure that your hook is appropriate for your audience; you want to be memorable but not a joke.
Giving your business card out to everyone at the event should never be your goal. You should know in advance who is going to the event and who you’d like to meet. If you know some people who can introduce you to the people you want to meet, all the better.
While you do want to sell things, you also want to build relationships with people. The relationships you build through networking events are more important than any amount of money you can make. As you learn to focus on relationship building, the networking events will automatically become more enjoyable because you’ll lift the pressure of performance.
When any event is over, the moment you are back home or in your hotel room, or sign off from the online event, make notes of what happened, who you conversed with, what they said, what you said, and their information if you collected it. Then, within the next 48 hours, email the person a nice letter, and/or if appropriate send them a card in snail mail. The follow-up is almost more important than the event. It will make you stand out among the others since most people do not remember to follow up.
When you go into a networking event prepared with a plan of action, you’ll automatically enjoy it more because you’ll know what your goals are and how you’ll achieve them. By placing your focus on building relationships and even making friends instead of just what you can get out of it, you’ll truly enjoy networking events more.
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