I am delighted that Gill Tiney has agreed to speak in Fuengirola. I first met her and her husband, Alan, on a cold, wet night in Harlow after an exhausting cycle ride in driving rain from Southend. I arrived at their home drenched to the skin, dripping from head to toe and probably not looking like a person you’d really want to say “hi” to never mind spend the next 24 hours with! Anyway, within minutes I was welcomed, made to feel at home, fed and watered. An amazing couple.
The 7 Secrets Of Successful Networking
I am a self confessed networking tart – I absolutely love it! I have been networking for over 22 years and indirectly have been doing it all my life. I currently get 80% of my business from my networking activities but it hasn’t always been easy. I have spent the last few years learning some very valuable lessons. One of the biggest revelations for me was that just because you are a ‘people person’ does not mean you are a natural networker. There is a clue in the title – Networking! It takes a lot more effort than simply turning up and having a nice chat over a cup of tea. That is not to say that some people may well have gained some work from doing just that but we all have our lucky breaks, being in the right place at the right time. If you want to get consistent results you have to know what you need to do to give you the edge. They are only small tweaks to what you do now but they can make the difference between spending two hours of your precious time generating income or seeing that time fritter away talking to strangers about the quality of the sandwiches. I know what I’d rather do.
So here are some insights that you can take into your next networking event, some you will use and some won’t feel a good fit and you might not try them out. All I can say is that if you try them they might just work, if you don’t try them then they definitely won’t work. As Einstein reminds us, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results, so try something different and have a go, even if it is outside of your comfort zone, it will help to put money in your pocket. The worst that can happen isn’t nearly as bad as the good that can come out of it. Fake it till you make it is another great saying, you might not feel confident but just pretend and eventually the little voice in your head will be quiet when it realises you are getting fantastic results from this networking lark. The increase in business will speak for itselfThere are many more tips than just 7 but I have whittled them down to the most important ones. If you do nothing else choose 3 from the list below and try them out. Hopefully you are already doing most of them but if you aren’t then a combination of at least three will improve your referral rate and then simply add on another top tip at subsequent events. My company is called Steps To Success because I believe that success lies in taking small regular steps to improve both yourself and your business. Consistent small steps will achieve greater results over time than a huge push that fades as fast as it started. Push yourself out of your comfort zone bit by bit.
Tip number 1 – Book the right event
There are a huge number of networking groups available to visit, make sure the one you are booked to go to will be full of visitors and members who share your client base. Forexample if you are looking predominantly for ladies who require your products or services a visit to a Chamber of Commerce might not be the first group to head for. One of the excellent ladies networking groups would be a better bet. If you are not allowed to visit because they are for ladies only, (and you aren’t ) then enlist the help of a female friend to talk to the group about your company. Ask for a delegate list or membership list before you go to check it is the right meeting for you.
Tip number 2 – Preparation is key
Think about who you want to connect with before you go. Who is your ideal client, have you got two or three names of companies that you would love to work with? If for example you can offer Recruitment companies a fantastic software solution then Google some in the local area. When you arrive at the meeting and begin chatting as part of the conversation you could ask if they know anyone at that particular company. If they don’t but they know the Recruitment company in the room they will be delighted to introduce them to you. You then get a warm introduction to a potential client rather than meeting them cold. As the company you Googled is local it is also highly likely you will find someone who knows someone at that company too.
Tip number 3 – Be ‘ON’
The minute you get into the car park you are putting on a show. You need to imagine that even the guy getting out of his car is possibly your next best client, or he might introduce you to your next best client. If you are feeling below par, been stuck in traffic, missed lunch, overloaded with admin, or just had a row with your wife, let me give you a newsflash – HE WON’T CARE! You have to plaster a smile on your face and put your best foot forward otherwise you might just as well not be there. If you have bothered to turn up make the most of it and as the song says ‘leave your worries on the doorstep’. Start a conversation as you walk to sign in, keep it light. He may have been stuck in the same traffic jam as you but don’t discuss it like the world has come to an end, it is a mild inconvenience. I had one lady regale the story of her queue in the post office, it was apparently ‘the worst day of my life’. I couldn’t resist telling her that if that was indeed the worst day of her life then she was a very lucky woman. Needless to say I wouldn’t want to refer her to any of my clients. Negativity on any scale doesn’t bode well for a fruitful relationship.
Tip number 4 – Work the room
As you arrive scan the room. Spot the people you already know and politely avoid them. Why would you come to a networking event and spend time talking to the people who already know what you do? You are there to talk to all the others. I was at one meeting where there were 150 people in the room and I knew 3 others. They initially stuck to me like glue and I simply said I love you lots but I have to go and talk to someone I don’t know. I didn’t forget they were there and we used each other to our mutual advantage. As I was chatting to people I was able to extol the virtues of the people I knew and connected them up. It is so much easier to say this guy is great than have to say to someone ‘I am great’. They returned the favour and so we were able to connect up with most of the room working together, but apart.
Tip 4b, don’t get stuck with the networking bore. Always position your body so that there is space for another to join the conversation. If all else fails when they take a breath (which I have found is rare) explain you need to visit the loo/get another drink/talk to someone over the other side of the room whichever one seems most useful. Remember too that 5 minutes with one person is probably enough at that meeting. If you think there is more mileage in talking to that person then arrange a 121.
Tip number 5 – speak to the organisers
These are the people who know most of the room, they can give you insights into the useful connections to make. Also if you want to raise your profile you can offer your services to the group for speaking engagements. Don’t forget to ask them about their business too as most networking groups are organised by business owners and they will be impressed that you took an interest in their company. Check them out on Twitter and Facebook too, and connect up outside of the meeting. If they know who you are there is more likelihood of them recommending you to their network – which is obviously quite large if they are organising the event.
Tip number 6 – have a rockin’ 60 second pitch
You have one opportunity to make an impression, make it count. Don’t wing it, be prepared and remember the basics;
Name, company, what you do, why people love you, who you are looking for( – yes be specific, name a local company), name and company again and strap line if you have one.
This is a tried and tested formula and with practice can be effectively put into 60 seconds. I would not recommend this format unless you are asked to do a 60 second to the room. Working on your pitch could be a 2 day workshop so for now this is just one way of doing it. Bottom line, be confident, clear, concise, and smile!
Tip number 7 – Follow up, Follow Up, FOLLOW UP!
This is less of a tip more of a GOLDEN RULE! If you fail to follow up you have just wasted all the effort from the previous tips. You have wasted your time, petrol, business cards that you gave out and collected, the relationships you started but didn’t continue, and finally the business potential is just thrown away. If you are going to a networking group you MUST book in some time the following day to follow up. Either by phone call or email somecontact has to be made. I speak from experience when I say I have found business cards from a networking event I didn’t want to go to with potential business just sitting in a pile about 3 weeks after the event, too late to be resurrected, and I did try. Two hours of my life I’ll never get back, didn’t enjoy and now haven’t even got some work from it. I promised myself I’d never do that again because it potentially damaged my credibility and reflected badly back on my business.
Something I have since reflected on and I want to share with you today is that when you are networking you are representing your company and the standards you set within it. If you arrive late to a meeting, what is that saying about your company? If I referred you would you turn up late to my client? If you have that 4th glass of wine can I rely on you to be professional? If you can’t dress smartly for a breakfast meeting how will you dress to see my best client? If I give you my card and you promise to call me in the morning and you don’t, can I trust your word? You cannot save the best stuff for the good clients, everyone you meet at a networking event has the potential to be your next best client.
So put your best foot forward, slap on that smile and show off about your company. Finally let me leave you with probably the oldest piece of sales advice that still rings true in networking today
You have two ears and one mouth, use them in that proportion
Visit my website www.stepstosuccess.eu to find more top tips on networking, remember to enjoy the journey and as Stephen Covey would say ‘Begin with the end in mind’ Happy networking.
Testimonial – A huge thank you for your networking seminar. It was so interesting and some fantastic tips which are very effective and empowering.
Jacqueline Jameson Stanley Tee LLP Solicitor