Earlier this week we hosted our first Training & Speed Networking Workshop for small business owners (SBOs) in our local area. Based on continued feedback from our coaching clients, we felt there was a need to focus on how to make networking easier for those that...well, there's no other way to say it... hate it. I'm happy to say the event was a great success. Participants had a great time learning a handful of easy tips for networking, how to apply them, and then had the opportunity to participate in a 30-minute speed networking session.
See... we at HRSS believe in learning AND application because they work hand-n-glove. And this is what made the workshop unique from most training and networking events. We provide training material and then ensure attendees have the opportunity to apply what they have learned. At this workshop, SBO participants had the opportunity to learn three easy tips for networking and then increased their learning by putting these in practice in a very safe and comfortable environment. Remember, I noted earlier that many don't find networking to be the most enjoyable "must do" in business. We wanted to ensure the event was a "fun" networking workshop so we hosted it at a local small business, had plenty of food... and wine. :-)
So today I'd like to share some of the take-aways from the workshop. And although you won't have the immediate opportunity to put these tips into practice like participants did at the speed networking, I am sure you will have an upcoming networking event where you can try these out for size. I assure you that they work if you put them into practice.
Are you ready to create more leads through 3 Tips for Easy Networking? Yes? Great. This is how.
Tip #1: Do your homework beforehand
- Choose events wisely, particularly events that involve your target clients; otherwise it can be a quick suck on your time with far too little return
- Set a goal for the number of contacts you want to make at the event and then focus on that goal (it will help settle your nerves to focus on the number instead of the people in the room, per se)
- Prepare a short & sweet elevator speech
- And then practice, practice, practice in front of friends, family, colleagues...and ask for feedback — What resonated with them? What do you need to clarify? What do you need to work on?
Tip #2: Don't sell...make friends
- Remind yourself that most people in attendance are in the same boat...strangers
- Listen more than talk; then contribute meaningful to the conversation (listening allows you to "hear" how you might be able to assist your new contact)
- Be authentic and show your passion for your work (now let me caution you...don't go crazy or pull a Tom Cruise jumping on the sofa...but show you are genuine and demonstrate passion for what you do because that can be contagious)
- Remember, people do business with people they know, like, and trust
Tip #3: Ask people you know to introduce you to others they know
- This breaks the ice a lot easer and makes introductions smoother and potentially gives you some credibility
- It's simple, "Hi, I'm Karen. So tell me what you do." or "Where do you work?"
- Show genuine interest in the other person and what they share
- Give them your business card and ask if it would be ok to follow up with them
Ok. Breathe... it's just that simple... you CAN DO IT! Networking may seem an impossible hurdle for many, but with these three tips and some practice, you'll find it becomes easier and easier to do.
So, get your business cards ready, sign up for the next networking event, and then… JUST DO IT!! Remember, practice makes perfect.
We'd love to get your feedback on our 3 Tips for Easy Networking? What might we be missing? What has worked really well for you?