Are you a born networker who just loves connecting with people?
Or do you dread going to business networking Events?
Either way, you’ll benefit by these notes I prepared to accompany my presentation at Entrepreneurs Indaba on Saturday, 25th May 2019. I uploaded the slides to Slideshare. Here you go:
When you become an Entrepreneur, it’s virtually impossible to avoid Business Networking Events. Word-of-mouth marketing is still the best form of marketing around, which makes networking events a necessary path to wealth.
*Amazon Affiliate Link up ahead. At no cost to you, I’ll earn some commission if you buy the book I recommend.
Where I Learned Networking Skills
I consider myself a born networker because I’m an out-and-out extrovert.
Yet when I cast my mind back to High School, I think I can attribute my networking prowess to reading Dale Carnegie’s brilliant book “How to Win Friends and Influence People“. Get the book on Amazon. #AffiliateLink
Here are his 6-steps to getting people to like you, just one of the important life lessons I learned from Dale Carnegie.
- Take a genuine interest in the person you’ve just met.
- Engage them with your winning smile. Be friendly and open.
- Do your best to remember their name. Use it once or twice in conversation or ask for it again if it’s slipped your mind. Ask them to spell their name if you didn’t quite catch it.
- Listen intently to what they are saying. Don’t listen just to respond, listen to understand.
- Discuss their interests, ask questions, go deeper.
- Make them feel like they are important. Give them a sincere compliment on something you’ve observed about them.
I really took his advice to heart at the time. So much so, that after a few months of practising his techniques on my friends, my best friend sat me down one day and said,
“Hey, when are you going to tell me how things are going with you? You only ever ask any of us how we are and what we are up to. It’s like you’ve disappeared”.
Teenagers are so impressionable.
Dale Carnegie’s advice is still relevant today. He was teaching how to become an Influencer before it even became a thing.
“The only way on Earth to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it.”
I went on to become a Network Marketer and eventually became Head of Networking for a company, so I’ve done loads of networking training and gained tons of experience since then.
After all those years immersed in the field, networking just comes naturally to me now.
I find that something that comes naturally can be difficult to articulate, so I did heaps of research online to prepare for this presentation and write this post, getting different perspectives and latest best practices.
The best video I watched by far, was this one by YouTuber and #GirlBoss, Hannah Ashton. It’s so upbeat, it makes for the perfect pep talk before you walk into a Networking Event. Hannah is GORGEOUS! Enjoy!
Business Networking Tips
1. Be Prepared
First impressions count so dress professionally or dress in a way that makes you stand out from the crowd. Most people are going to be wearing a combination of blue, white and black, so just adding some colour could do the trick.
Don’t leave home without your business cards or marketing materials.
Know your 30-second, 1 minute and 2-Minute Elevator Pitch off-pat. It will help you feel at ease and get the right points across when you’re talking to complete strangers.
How to Craft an Elevator Pitch
Start out with a friendly greeting and give your name, company name and designation.
Here’s a 3-Step Formula to help you craft an Elevator Pitch that packs a punch.
- Ask a Rhetorical Question related to your business and what problem it solves: Did You know that…
- Share Your Skills – What do you do best? Who do you serve? How do you help others?
- Mention Your Goals – What are your goals and plans in the next few months? What are you looking for? Ask for help.
Here’s my current 30-second elevator pitch. I can say more or less according to how much time is allotted in the session.
Hi, I’m Lauren Kinghorn, the Founder of Inspiring Mompreneurs. Did you know that Content Marketing is replacing Advertising? That’s how I make a living. I’m a Digital Entrepreneur. Companies pay me to write and publish posts on my 3 niche websites. I also promote Mom Entrepreneurs and I’d like to do more for all the amazing women Entrepreneurs I come across every day, online and offline. I’d like to teach Moms to build their authority online. So this year, my plan is to create some online courses and publish a book or 3 on Amazon Kindle. I’ve also set my sights on doing a Ted Talk. I’m currently looking for more paid writing and speaking opportunities.
Once you’ve written your pitch down, all that’s left to do is practice, practice, practice.
Any time you meet someone and they ask what you do for a living, you’ve got an opportunity to give your elevator pitch.
Once you’ve got it down pat, it will flow.
And then you’ll be ready for that day that you step into the lift and your favourite Dragon from Dragon’s Den is there and heading up to the top floor.
2. Set an Intent
Why are you attending this particular event? Is it to gain referrals, land a new job or get a sale?
Are you about to launch something new in your business and you’re keen to get the word out?
Do you want to bounce ideas off people in the know?
Are you looking for support and encouragement?
Even if it’s just something as simple as to make new friends, make sure you set an intent beforehand.
Look for the person who’s alone at the coffee machine and strike up a conversation with them.
Or join a big group where there’s already lots of friendly banter going on.
Avoid interrupting 2 people who are already deep in discussion as that probably won’t leave a good impression.
4. Ask Questions
People naturally love talking about themselves. Here are some great questions to ask to open people up.
A few Conversation Starters you could use:
- What brought you here today?
- How did you get into your industry?
- What inspired you to start your business?
- What do you love most about your job?
- What do you love least about your job?
- What did you enjoy about the last session?
- What was your biggest takeaway in the last session?
- What do you do in your spare time?
- What are your passions or hobbies?
- What’s your target market?
- Who would be a great referral for you?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting you bombard them with all of these questions. Just pick one or two you’re comfortable with and make them your go-to questions if you feel you’re at a loss for words.
Once you’ve asked a question, give them the floor.
Now is the time to practice active listening. i.e Listen to understand, not to interject with your thoughts on the subject. If you listen carefully, your next question will allow you to go deeper and that’s how you get to Connect.
And this is what networking is all about. Making meaningful business connections.
As you get to understand their business and their business needs, you’re looking for connections, synergies or common ground. You’re looking for where you could collaborate or form alliances. You’re looking for some way you can help each other or inspire each other.
If you don’t think you can be of service, but you know of someone who would be a perfect fit, refer them on to your friend.
This is a great point in the conversation to ask two questions I mentioned earlier:
- What’s your target market?
- Who would be a great referral for you?
8. Follow Up
If you’ve made a brilliant connection, make sure you set up another date to discuss further.
Or if you have a great referral for them, put them in touch with each other.
At the very least, visit their website and connect on LinkedIn or their preferred social media platform.
Take the next step to start forging a business relationship.
And here’s my most important tip to bear in mind. If you forget everything else, just remember this:
Successful networkers give way more than they take.
“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”
– Winston Churchill
One quick point before I sign off: If you’re extremely introverted, Online Networking might be the perfect option for you, I’ll cover that in a future post. I’ll be following up in the next week or two, with separate posts dedicated to Online Networking and Speed Networking.
Were these tips useful? Are you feeling pumped to attend your next business networking event? Have you got your Elevator Pitch prepared? Feel free to share it below. Practice makes perfect.