Cultivating relationships is at the heart and soul of everything we do in business. In business, relationships are the byproduct of an activity called networking. Networking is a business activity by which businesspeople and entrepreneurs meet to form business relationships and to recognize, create or act upon business opportunities, share information and seek potential partners for ventures. If you have a consulting or coaching practice, then networking should be one of your main business development strategies. I have clients who have networked their way to a 6-figure and 7-figure business. You too can easily master the art of networking and fill your client roster like a pro, if you follow these simple steps to becoming a networking expert.
You’re in the business of selling a service to another business, which means you’re in the relationship business. And we know the principle that runs ALL businesses is:
“All things being equal people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like, and trust.” – Bob Burg and John David Mann
Networking is one technique that when used strategically, enables you to turn strangers into paying clients. There are many ways to network with people. It doesn’t need to be limited to the most well-known form of attending a ‘networking event’. Some ways to meet people and start building relationships include:
- Attending an event in person and talk to the people in the room
- Direct outreach using social platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn
- Asking for introductions from clients and colleagues
- Participating in conversations in online community groups
- Being a member of a group, committee or board
When you strategize your networking events for the year, think of ways that will enable you to get exposure in front of like-minded people, your niche market, potential business referral partners or strategic alliances and peer groups. Also, think of ways that you can get maximum exposure from that activity, so that you are ‘seen’ and stand out as a leader or authority figure, rather than simply being another body in a sea of anonymous faces.
Networking is a skill to be refined and mastered, so that you can reap the reward of your efforts over time. Here are five tips for masterful networking:
- Be Strategic. Choose your venue and your platform mindfully. You want to be in the places that your target market, circles of influence and potential referral partners are hanging out. Be discerning and selective about where you decide to spend your time and devote your energy.
- Nail Your Introduction. Be prepared with your short introduction that clearly states what you offer, who you serve, and the outcomes that your clients get by working with you. The better you are at articulating your message with clarity, the easier it will be to connect with the right people.
- Listen more. Talk Less. Take a genuine interest in others. Be inquisitive and ask questions that enable you to really get to know the person you are talking to. Be interested, not interesting.
- Give first. Share always. Be a connector and show up with a giving mindset. Look for ways to help and support others. Remove expectations and approach people with an open heart and an open mind to the infinite possibilities that your encounter awaits.
- Offer Value. Look for ways to take your initial conversation to the next stage in the relationship. Provide your new friend with value by keeping the connection alive and offering something of value, like a free resource, an introduction or an invitation to have a deeper conversation about finding ways to support each other.
There are a couple of REALLY big mistakes that business owners make when it comes to networking. You’ll want to avoid these:
- Don’t ask your new friend to marry you on the first date. (ie) Don’t pitch your services on day one.
- Don’t be a one-night-stand. (ie.) Be sure to stay connected, nurture your relationship and follow up.
Building a business is a marathon, not a sprint. Make a commitment to purposefully build your business by mastering the art of cultivating relationships, one day at a time and you’ll be well on your way to growing a very successful business.
For more tips on how to fill your client roster, you’ll want to check out my guide to Start Getting Your Clients to Say YES, so you can stop chasing prospects and start magnetizing buyers who will jump at the chance to work with you – without hassles, stalls or discounts. Get all the details and subscribe here.
To your success,