One of the best ways to position yourself as an expert, get new clients and grow your business is to network. You need to learn how to make strong connections with people.
When you network, you put yourself in the midst of people who are your potential clients, those who are in the same niche as you and those you can partner with. With this in mind, you need to make good use of the opportunity you have to network with people. Because of the importance networking has to freelancers and small business owners, I’ve put together a few tips to make each networking experience profitable.
1. Set a clear goal or purpose for networking
Although networking can be fun and quite informative, you should not forget the real reason why you’re doing it. For this reason you need to have a clearly defined goal you want to achieve at the end of the networking event or meetup. This will keep you focused and encourage you to be strategic about what you talk about and how you conduct yourself to achieve that goal. But remember to have fun in the process. It’s not necessary to be so formal while networking.
2. Master your elevator pitch
I first heard about the elevator pitch on a Pro Blogger podcast. I have mastered it since then and use it every day to sign up new clients. When you walk up to people or when people approach you, it is likely that they’ll ask you what you do for a living or what business you’re into. Make sure that you know you have your elevator pitch ready. An elevator pitch is a short description of what business you’re into, what you do, who your clients are and what you do for them.
Take time to plan and rehearse your elevator pitch before networking. You have 60 seconds to make a good impression, so make it count.
3. Keep the conversation going with open-ended questions
Nobody likes an awkward silence, especially when you try to start a conversation with someone. Conversations that are engaging and memorable create a deep connection with the person you’re talking to.
Develop the skill of asking open-ended questions. Open-ended questions are questions that encourage people to answer with sentences. They encourage a conversation unlike close-ended questions which encourage a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. When you ask open-ended questions you prompt the person to speak more and that keeps the conversation going, which is great for you.
4. Always carry your business card
When you meet someone who is a potential client or someone you want to connect with in the future, it’s a good practice to share your business card with them. Your business card contains all of your contact details written in one place. It makes you look professional and it saves you the time you would have spent to bring out your phone, share your phone number and store the other person’s number in your phone. I never leave my house without some business cards.
5. Be yourself
When you’re surrounded by so many accomplished people, there’s a natural urge for you to try to fit in so you won’t feel left out. However, it’s so much easier to just be yourself. Do not forget your true self all in the name of trying to impress a couple of people. Be real. Stay authentic, but polite. Those who will be your clients or friends will love and appreciate you for who you are.
How do you network? Do you have any tips to share? Sound off in the comment section please.
Thanks for reading.