I’ve been in the real estate business for awhile and something I’ve learned is how important networking is to a successful business. There are definite good ways and bad ways to network. I always think of the act of working on business contacts as a process and journey. Don’t immediately ask for something. Think of it like dating. You wouldn’t ask someone on a first date to marry you would you? Good networking partnerships take time.
Here are some of my top tips for networking success:
Practice Makes Perfect. Before you even attend a networking event make sure you are ready. Perfect your elevator speech. Deliver it to a few people who will be honest and get their opinion. Is it memorable? Is it clear what you do? Come up with some talking points about yourself that focus on your Unique Selling Propositions, those items that really make you stand out.
Think Quality Not Quantity. We’ve all been at a tradeshow or networking meeting where we could whip through and hand a business card to everyone in the room. As tempting as this is, don’t morph into speed networking mode. Take your time and really talk to people. Start to establish real contacts. Think people not numbers.
Find Common Ground. Don’t just always stick to same old questions, ask questions like are you from this area? How long have you been in the business for? Do you know so and so? They are really great to work with. Establishing common ground is crucial and helps someone remember you.
Be a Good Listener. When you meet someone, try and make it about them, not just all about you. Say your sales intro, but take the time to ask them questions and find out more about them and their business. Ask questions like how can I help you with your business? Who is your target market, what type of clients are you looking for?
Follow Up. Send the people you meet an email just saying you were happy to meet them. Send them an invitation to connect on LinkedIn, Follow them on Twitter, or Like their Facebook business page. This will differentiate you from the crowd of other people they met. Do what you say you’ll do. If you say you’ll give them a call sometime, or shoot them an email follow through.
Just Do Some Good. Every person you meet is not going to be able to use your services, but it is always a good idea to keep in touch and see if there is anything you can do to help them. They will remember you for this and be more likely to return the favor and go out of their way to help you.
Keep a Calendar. Keep a master contact calendar to keep track of your contacts. Reach out to them every few months, just to stay top of mind. Even if it is just a personal note to tell them to have a Happy Thanksgiving, or to enjoy their summer, plan on reaching out every now and again.
Drink More Coffee…Do more meetings for coffee and meals and less impersonal meetings in the office boardroom. This opens up doors for better conversations and it is easier to get to know someone.
Don’t Limit Yourself. Making new contacts shouldn’t be limited to just networking events. Always carry your business cards with you. Don’t be afraid to strike up conversations with people and give them your information.
Remember, “When times are tough, a client will leave you, but a friend won’t.” -Dr. Ivan Misner said, Founder and Chairman of Business Network International. I hope these tips are helpful and open new doors for you and your business!