Get in-person social: Using real-world networking to grow your business

Get in-person social: Using real-world networking to grow your business

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. 

We’ve all heard it, and many of us have found it to be true.

Networking can be the best opportunity you will have for generating real leads and growth for your business.

At the core, in-person networking is about building relationships. And like any good relationship, business relationships take time – building rapport, knowledge and most of all, trust.

Not everyone enjoys it, but here are a few things that I’ve picked up along the way which may help to make the networking experience more enjoyable, and profitable for your business:

8 Ways to Network in the Real World

Give and receive: Be interested, not interesting and consider how you might help that person – whether it be connecting them with like-minded businesses, potential suppliers, or even better, potential customers. Care about what they’re doing – if not for you, for them and other people who you may be able to connect them with. Keep your ears open for a solution to their problem or something that might interest them. And if you’re networking with the right people, it will come back to you in droves.

Do it often and choose wisely: Your business needs change and evolve, and so will your networking needs. Be sure that you choose the right network to be involved with, and if it’s not the right fit, find a replacement group or event. Mark it in your diary in advance and be strategic about the use of your time.

Be clear and specific (and brief): When given the opportunity to tell people about what you do, make sure you speak their language (no lingo!), be clear about what you’re looking for, or perhaps how they might help. Don’t ramble, and give the other person the opportunity to ask questions or understand how they might be able to help you.

Avoid the serial networker (and don’t be that person!): There are a number of known networking ‘personalities’– from the ‘socialite networker’ who just loves to attend events and ‘be seen’, to the ‘serial networker’ (you can usually spot them coming towards you, armed with the cards he’s already collected and a keen lack of interest in anything you actually might have to share with him!).

Follow up: At this point, the serial networker would enter all their business cards into their database and start selling you their latest and greatest offer. But for those relationships that you can truly nurture, communicate regularly, and provide mutually beneficial opportunities to connect with the people who are important to you.

Don’t forget social: Connect online, acknowledge those in your network publicly (if you think it will help and if it’s a fit with your social profile).

Give thanks: Acknowledge those in your network privately where it’s deserved. A note of thanks goes a long way towards showing appreciation and increasing the strength of any relationship.

Relax a little: Networking might make some a little nervous, but there are no prizes for the best networker. Be honest with yourself, and with the people you’re connecting with. And your results will be much better (as will your experience).

For more information about Katherine MacPherson, please visit her profile.
 


Katherine MacPherson

Principal at The Hunter Box

Still trying to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up, Katherine has spent the last 15 years working across a range of industries, always creatively designing and managing marketing projects. Katherine understands business, and builds marketing strategies to get the best out of your marketing dollar. Katherine has a ‘thing’ for Seth Godin (look him up!) and thinks she can sing but knows she can’t dance.

The Hunter Box

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Stephen Pearson

Stephen Pearson , Director at AV Creative

Katherine - Great article. Networking can be great fun and you can meet lots of interesting people. It is one of the best aspects of running a business for me. From my experience I would add that you also have to target and be persistent. Where are your buyers and what is your offer to them?

Katherine MacPherson

Katherine MacPherson , Principal at The Hunter Box

Thanks Stephen, you're right, persistence and targeting is key. Although I find that having a broad scope to your target audience can bring unexpected results for them and you in your mutual dealings. Networking is one of those things that people either love or hate. Personally, I enjoy it too, and if you don't, it comes through - one of those things where you've got to have your 'head in the game' for it to be worth your while.

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