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Networking 101 – Working the Networks

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Many of the people that I meet at networking meetings, seem to have this very naive concept about how networking works.  You see they seem to think that it’s enough just to pitch up at a networking meeting and if they make themselves available to whomever is there, the work will flow in.  Clearly, work will just fall like manna from the skies or claw its way out of the earth, to land very neatly into their laps!  Must be their pure magnetism that attracts it in the first place, whilst they, of course sit quietly, waiting for this momentous phenomenon to take place!  Yeah right – and you’re going to marry a tall dark handsome stranger who is rich beyond your wildest expectations!

Ok, so let’s look at the statistics – nothing like cold hard facts to get logic back into the picture.  Less than 3% of the people you meet in a networking meeting will actually contact you, do business with you or even take any kind of note that you exist.  Should you actually be one of that 3% and you get some work out of a networking event – lucky you.  Now you can sit back because they are going to refer you – here’s another cold hard fact!  Less than 10% of referral business “just happens”.

What makes you think that you are so special that people want to walk around talking about you and your products and/or services?  What makes you think that they want to walk around telling people how great you are?

Be realistic people – networking and getting referrals, like any other thing in life, is hard work and it is something that you need to work at – constantly.  It takes hard work, actually to be honest – make that persistence and hard work!

Napoleon Hill, in his book “Think and Be Rich” (and if you have never read it, I strongly suggest that you need to get a copy), says “Persistence is an essential factor in the procedure of transmuting desire into its monetary equivalent.  The basis of persistence is the Power of Will.”

Oh, don’t get me wrong, getting yourself to a meeting is a good thing – but it is essentially, the first step.  Once there, you have to meet and/or introduce yourself to the people there, engage in conversation.  Tell them who you are and what it is that you do (briefly), listen carefully to what it is they do and who they are.  Then you need to follow up.
•    Send them an e-mail with your business profile and a short message telling them to expect a call from you
•    Actually phone them and book an appointment with them to have a ‘one on one’ meeting with them.  No-one knows your business better than you – can you explain in three minutes who you are, what you do and why people need your products and/or services?  No, well neither can they.  So get together, have a coffee and chat.
•    Pitch up for the meeting!  This is very important!  If you don’t pitch up, believe me – they will not refer you, no matter how fabulous your product is or how wonderful you are.  By not pitching up, you are telling them, very loudly that you are not reliable and you cannot be trusted!
•    Tell them who you are, if you have any marketing material, this is the time to give it to them and explain it, yourself, your product, your service.
•    Listen to who they are and what it is that they do – listen carefully (you expected them to listen to what you had to say, so return the favour).  Take notes, ask questions – satisfy yourself that you understand (even if it is only on the surface) their business.
•    Make a list of all the people you can think of in your database, who might need their product and/or service or who might be able to introduce them to the people who might need their product and/or service.
•    Introduce them to those people (I usually do this by means of an e-mail to both parties).
•    If you are given a referral – contact the person you have been referred to.  These introductions are like gold, treasure them.

Once in your database, you can now relax – well you have their contact details and they have yours, so now they have nothing better to do than send you work!

Wake up people!

Constantly remind them that you are available for work.  Send out regular e-mails or newsletters or invitations to other networking events.  Get into their faces and spaces (and I mean that in the nicest possible way – no spamming please), so that they don’t forget you, so that if an opportunity does arrive, the first person that they think of is you!

Easy hey?  Very – as long as you work at it constantly, persistently, every day, everywhere and all the time.

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