Nothing beats the power of networking! Networking is a great way to connect with other professionals, build and amplify your business, and receive valuable referrals. Thanks to your local networking group, getting started is probably easier than you think. If you’ve recently taken the plunge and joined a networking group, these four tips will help you make the most out of your next meeting.
Simply showing up is the simplest—and most important—way to get the most out of your networking group. The time you spend at your networking group is incredibly valuable, and you want to utilize every second of it. Consider showing up ten minutes before the meeting to get in some extra networking, and try to be at every meeting, only using a substitute when absolutely necessary. By just being there, you’ll be able to make the most of each meeting—and will show your fellow networkers that you’re reliable, dedicated, and ready to work.
Be detailed about your referral requests
When you have a chance to tell your networking group what kind of referrals you’re looking for, you’ll have the best results if you’re specific about your needs and wants. Vague or generic requests, such as “I am looking for someone who requires my services” might earn you some leads, but they might not be exactly what your business needs. Instead, focus on what you’re really looking for. For example, if you’d really like to meet with the owner of a specific business, ask if anyone can help you set up a meeting with them. This gets right to the point of what you’re looking for, and ensures that you won’t waste your time on ineffective referrals.
Practice makes perfect
When you know you’re going to be called upon to share more information about your business, be prepared. Whether you’re giving your weekly brief “informercial” or a ten-minute presentation, know exactly what you’re going to say. For your infomercial, take the time to write a brief outline of what you want to talk about, and don’t forget to include details about what kind of referrals you’re seeking. If you’re particularly nervous, you can even write out your entire informercial beforehand, or come up with a format to follow each time, changing the information as necessary. Practicing and preparing helps take away some of the nerves, and ensures that you’ll give your networking group all the information they need to provide you with fulfilling referrals.
Follow-up and stay connected
To make the most of your time and build valuable connections, be sure to follow-up on any referrals in a timely manner. If you don’t follow up on referrals, you’re not just missing out on a potentially great connection, but also losing trust with your fellow networkers, who might hesitate to give you referrals in the future. You can also build connections with other professionals in your networking group by having one-on-one meetings with other members. One-on-one meetings allow you to have in-depth conversations outside of your weekly networking meetings, and give you the chance to form valuable, long-lasting partnerships with other professionals in your community.
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