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The dos and don'ts of becoming a master networker

It's all about relationships
Wednesday, February 3, 2016 - 09:00
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It's all about relationships

When it comes to marketing your business, it’s all about the relationships you develop. People want to do business with people they know, like and trust. In other words, your potential customers need to get to know you before you can win them over.

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Networking is a key part of your business success. Think about it: people are always looking for personal recommendations for an auto repair shop. They don’t care about the fancy ads on TV. They want to know they can trust their car mechanic. A personal recommendation is like gold. If you are the one out there connecting with people, then you’re more likely to be that person who’s recommended by others as a trustworthy mechanic.

So how can you get people to know you? It comes down to becoming a master networker. Of course, you can’t just wave a magic wand and become the king or queen of connections over night. There is some skill and artistry at work. Below are a few dos and don’ts to help you increase your connections and make the most of your networking efforts.

Here’s what you should (and shouldn’t) do as you network:

Do join associations, including the Chamber of Commerce, BNI (Business Networking International), Rotary, Kiwanis, and others.

Don’t assume joining is enough. Anyone can sign up and say they’re a member, but only those who actively participate will see a true and lasting benefit.

That means attending meetings, events, ribbon cuttings and any other social gatherings that serve as an opportunity for you to meet and connect with people.

How to attend (and make the most of) an event

Even the simple act of attending an event requires strategy and forethought. If you go in without a plan, you’ll either spend your time unsure of who to talk to, or you’ll miss out on an opportunity that could have evolved into a lasting relationship.

We suggest you do spend time preparing for your event. This includes seeing – if possible – who has registered. From that list, pick out a few specific people you intend to meet. Make sure this is a reasonable amount of people so that it gives you enough time to converse and establish a connection.

Do know where to wear your nametag. Yes, there is a “right place” to wear it! It’s best if you wear your nametag on the right half of your chest, since most people shake with their right hands. As they greet you, their eyes will naturally travel from your hand up to your nametag.

As you engage in conversations, do your best to listen more than talk. Believe it or not, the best way to sell your offering is to sit back and let others engage with you. It comes across as a negative experience when you’re the one doing all the talking. So instead, let them do the talking, so that they walk away feeling good about that connection. Your goal is to keep the focus on the other person (take this opportunity to gather information on that person for use later on).

Don’t be a bragger about your business or personal life. Stay humble, approachable, and likeable. 

Do ask for business cards from those you have conversations with.

Don’t write on business cards in front of the giver. Even if they’ve provided space on the cards for you to write on, don’t do it. It can come across as disrespectful. Err on the side of caution.

Don’t be the person who shoves their business cards and brochures into people’s faces. Save your cards for those you’ve truly connected with. Similarly, don’t be the first to mention your business. This comes across as too pushy, and will likely be seen as a turnoff.

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