Business Networking Strategies
- Be Genuine. One of the most important aspects of effective business networking is being genuine. The foundation of business networking is relationships. The better quality of the relationships you build, the more leverage you get out of a business networking group. A key part of this is being genuine. Be yourself and don’t try to make yourself out to be someone you are not. For the most part, people refer you, not your products or services.
- Know what your goals are. The Lehigh Valley Elite Network groups are designed to educate its members about each other and provide a systematic way for business relationships to be established and maintained, more than simply making contacts. It helps to know what your goals are when joining the group.
- Visit various groups. You want the group you join to be a good fit for you. Get a feel for the tone of the group. It is much more productive for you to select one perhaps two groups to become involed with and commit your efforts to becoming involved and getting to know it's members. The Lehigh Valley Elite Network requires you to choose at lease one group that will be your home group that you will be responsable for monthly attendence.
- Ask questions. The Lehigh Valley Elite Network schedules three members each month to give a presentation to the group. After the presentation, ask questions. This shows that you are an active participant in the group and that you are interested in the business that your fellow member has chosen for a profession. It is important to them, so make it important to you.
- Show up regularly. Showing up regularly is a reflection of your character and integrity. It shows your fellow members that you are someone they can depend on to make them look good when they refer someone to you. Additionally, it helps you get more referral. It is not uncommon for someone to miss out on a referral simply because that person did not show up to the meeting. The Lehigh Valley Elite Network asks of its members to find a substitute when they cannot attend. Obviously, “life happens” occasionally that restricts your attendance at times and that is expected, however, let fellow members know in advance of expected absence.
- Become known as a resource. Do one-on-ones with your fellow members to get to know them, their business, and how you can help them. The best business networkers know their fellow members and clients well – not only the part that relates to their business. The best networkers often know the ins and outs of their fellow member’s and client’s business, including the challenges they are experiencing. They then can say, “I know someone who can help you with that. Here is her name and number…” Soon, people will know you as a resource and will turn to you for advice, ideas, and suggestions.
- Know your business. Be able to describe your business clearly, succinctly, and persuasively. When people ask what you do, be able to give a 30 to 45 second commercial in a way that sets you apart from the others in your business. Be able to talk about your business clearly so that the person you are talking to can easily relay that to other people.
- Follow through. When a member passes a referral to you, contact that referral quickly. More often than not, members giving you the referral will contact the referral, letting the referral know that you will be contacting that person. The members will typically ask the referral if you contacted them yet the next time they communicate. If you haven’t, you may not get many referral in the future. Follow through quickly and your referral base will grow.
- Be a member – not a taker. Talk to everyone. Get to know them and not just their business. Look them in the eye when you talking to them – show that you are genuinely interested in what they are saying. Find out how you can help them. Be a member in such a way that other members would want to refer people to you. Remember, members refer people to you, not your business.