Business networking. That’s where you put on a suit, visit a room of strangers armed with a ton of business cards, and flog them your services, isn’t it? Scary stuff!
If that’s what comes to mind when someone mentions business networking, then either you’ve been doing it all wrong, or going to the wrong places! In fact, networking is not about sales at all, not in the beginning anyway. It’s about creating a network around your business, and building relationships with other business owners. It’s about getting to know people, finding out about them and their business, and becoming friends with them. And then, when you’ve developed a strong relationship with them, it can be about selling your services – or buying theirs – but you’ll both be doing it because you like and trust each other, not because you feel you have to.
The secret to successful networking is all in the way you approach it. If you go to a meeting with one aim in mind – to sell your services and make money – then I’m sorry, but it’s not going to work! Very few people like to be pressured into a sale and in fact, you’ll be pushing people away rather than engaging with them!
Networking is not a quick fix solution with instant success; it’s more a slow burner that takes time and effort and commitment to work. Going to one meeting is not going to win you business – you need to stick at it, go back to meetings regularly and get to know people. It won’t be long before you start building relationships and developing your network. Then, when the time is right and people need what you can offer, you’ll find them coming to you – not because you’re the cheapest, but because they understand your business and they like and trust you.
So next time you go to a business networking event, don’t go thinking about making sales. Go with an open mind, a smile on your face and a desire to meet new people … and then sit back and watch your business network grow.