To grow your business you MUST attend networking events. Well, that is a pretty broad statement and it may or may not hold a lot of weight. Sure you need to prospect for new clients, but if you’re attending networking events simply for the sake of attending one, are you growing your business? I do have some tips for how to become a networking guru and they may be tried-and-true or they may be new-to-you.
What I do know, as a business coach, is that you can’t operate a business in a vacuum. You also can’t spend so much time out of the office that you’re not taking care of business and serving your current clients. You need to strike a balance and you need to attend networking events that make sense.
How To Become A Networking Guru
I enjoy attending networking events and business meetings. I find them helpful, but I don’t look at them as the only way to grow my business. I also don’t put so much pressure on my attendance there that I walk away disheartened if I don’t close a deal. As a matter of fact, I NEVER attend an event with the idea of closing a deal. A networking event is a getting-to-know you opportunity. Walk in there with the knowledge that you can be a resource and you will find you have more success than those who walk in wanting to close the deal.
- It doesn’t matter what meeting you attend, as long as you’re getting out of the office and meeting new people, right? No. You don’t want to attend a meeting, just to attend a meeting. Choose one that makes sense for you and your business. Your time is too valuable to waste.
- Not everyone is a potential client, or maybe they are! Every person you meet is a potential colleague, but not necessarily a client. This means even the person you’re striking up a conversation with in line at the grocery store could be a colleague or client so it makes sense to be on your best behavior. Imagine if you’re yelling at a cashier and the next day you see the person who was in line behind you at a networking event? You will not be able to erase that first impression.
- Your need to recite your elevator speech and share your business story with everyone you meet. Stop! You don’t. Let people get ot know, like and trust you before you begin the sales pitch. Be a resource. Ask about their business. Make the meeting about them, not you! Ask open-ended questions and steer away from religion or politics at an initial meeting.
Networking is about relationship building. How strong are your relationships?
Tips To Bring Your Next Presentation To Life because if you’re in front of a group of potential clients at a networking meeting you want to not only teach them valuable implementable tips, but you want to entertain! How can you make your next presentation memorable? Hint: Remember, it’s not all about you — even if your’e the one imparting the information!
Tips To Bring Your Next Presentation To Life
- Be enthusiastic. Whether you’re a pool service pro, a septic tank cleaner or a Fortune 500 CEO you need to be enthusiastic about your subject and find a way to bring even the driest of subjects to life. Bring props if they help support your topic and if they are interesting. Don’t stare at a screen and read word for word from your slides. If you’re doing that, you may as well hand the slides to the attendees and let them read at their leisure.
- Mine your memories for information that only you know about your subject matter. Remember, you’re the speaker and that means you will be seen as the expert. Go beyond the superficial and give the audience something to truly think about. Look for intriguing angles on a subject about which “everyone” may know.
- Ditch the jargon. Believe me, you will not impress your audience if you use “industry speak” and pepper your talk with acronyms. Speak plainly. In this instance, industry speak and acronyms will not make you look like an expert, it will make you look like a show-off. If your audiences’ eys are glazing over every time you toss out an industry specific term, you need to get back to basics and keep your speech simple and relatable.
- Move around the room. It is comfortable for most people to stand in one place and stand behind a podium. I urge you to get out, walk around, make eye contact with the audience. Don’t read from your speech — practice before you attend the meeting so you can speak more naturally.
- Know how you operate. What works for one speaker will not work for another. You’ve been to events where the speaker focused solely on slides, others that used no visuals and others that had a combination of the two. Know what makes you most comfortable in sharing your expertise and embrace that as your speaking style. If you’re not a “funny guy” don’t attempt humor. Avoid potentially inflammatory comments. Keep to the topic about which you are speaking.
- Leave time for questions, but don’t be worried if your request of, “Does anyone have any questions?” is met with crickets. Many people won’t speak up in the group setting. If no one has a question, make certain you extend the invitation to, “Reach out to me any time if you do have questions.”
- Remember, the speech is about the audience. Give them something they can take back to their office and potentially implement. Regardless of your career path, if you’re speaking on a particular subject and if you have an audience, they are there to learn. Give them knowledge.
What do you do to prepare for a speech? How do you deliver your expertise? Are you looking for more speaking engagements? What are you doing to make that a reality?
Are you looking for easy ways to grow your small business? Most entrepreneurs that I speak with are. While there are no shortcuts to success, there are some steps you can take that will make your rise to the top of your field quicker and easier.
Easy Ways To Grow Your Small Business
In today’s business world, who you know remains as important as what you know — in some cases the “who” is almost more important than the “what.” How and where can you get to know more people with whom you can partner to help both of your businesses thrive? By attending networking events. The importance of networking events include:
- The people you meet may become customers
- You may find referral partners
- You may find great employees
- You may find someone who can provide the goods and services your business needs
- You will learn more about the industry in general and your industry in specific
What kinds of networking groups should you seek out?
- Those in your specific industry
- General networking events
- Toastmaster’s groups
- General business groups
- Industry specific entrepreneur associations or trade groups
- Non-business groups — your church group, an organization for which you volunteer.
How can you make the most of your time at these events?
- Know your business story
- Practice your elevator pitch
- Become involved. You’ll get out of a group what you put into it
- Shake hands. Introduce yourself to others.
- Listen. Listen. Listen.
Do you find value in networking events? How often do you attend?