How to profit from business networking in 5 easy steps
Most business people network with the end goal
being profit of some kind. Whether it is a sale
for their business or the company they work for
or maybe a new and better job.
They often seek out official networking functions
as the opportunity to expand their contact list.
This is an effective strategy if you create and
nurture quality relationships.
But working the networking circuit is not enough.
You must do more than talk to dozens of people
and grab every business card available.
Yet, every networking function has tremendous
potential for new business leads. Following are
5 easy steps to profiting from business
The first step is to select the right networking group
or event. You will by far get the best return on your
time invested by participating in networking events
designed for your particular industry. This includes
trade shows, conferences, and associations
dedicated to your business type.
For example, if you are targeting businesses with
over 100 employees, why would you go to a
networking function primarily designed for individual
small business owners.
Don't forgot to join groups where your target market
participates. For example, a friend of mine is a real
estate agent so he joined a local bankers
association to get access to mortgage brokers and
bank owned properties.
It's about quality contacts versus quantity.
Often, networkers are tempted to
distribute and collect as many business
cards as possible during a business
You will get better long term results by
setting a goal of making between two and
five new contacts at each networking
event you attend.
By limiting the number of contacts, you
are able to focus on quality connections
and building rapport and trust with each
First impressions matter. You cannot make a first
impression twice. You must seize the one
opportunity you are given because you may not
get a second chance.
Keys to a strong first impression include a great
handshake, good facial expressions, direct eye
contact, genuine interest in the other person you
are speaking with and your overall attentiveness.
These keys are so important, I suggest you
practice to develop a firm (but not too firm),
confident handshake, a natural, genuine smile
and make good eye contact.
Some suggested techniques to ensure a great
initial impact are: notice the person's eye color
as you introduce yourself and listen carefully to
If you cannot hear or understand the name, ask
them politely to repeat it. Do not go the rest of
the event not knowing the individual’s name, or
worse mispronounce it.
Speak with a loud and confident tone of voice.
Often people are nervous at networking events
and do not speak loudly or clearly enough to be
Get to know the person you are speaking to
before talking about yourself. You can achieve
this by asking them what they do. Then you can
either comment on their business, ask questions,
or ask them to explain something in more detail.
As you show interest in them and their business,
they are more likely to become interested in you
and your business.
Know what you do and be able to clearly say what
it is. Similar to the "elevator pitch", you should be
able to introduce yourself in a brief and succinct
Create and practice two introductions: ten
seconds or less and thirty second or less. Your
introduction should clearly state what you do and
For example; “I work with an internet marketing
firm that helps small businesses increase their
sales and profits.” A key that often gets
overlooked by networkers is developing an
introduction that encourages the other person to
ask you to elaborate. This helps in the rapport
When the person asks for more information about
what you do, that is your opportunity to use the
thirty second introduction.
For example, “Jane Doe of Acme Supplies was
looking to increase their lead and sales generation.
They contracted our firm and after six months we
helped them increase their sales by 34.5 percent.
In addition, they were able to cut their cost by 10
percent by eliminating spending on less effective
Per the above example, an effective introduction
should give a clear example of your work and
typical results you have helped your clients
You should be honest, genuine and authentic so
you do not sound like a cheap salesman peddling
snake oil. However, it is important that you practice
both introductions so they sound natural and you
can use them at any time and in any situation
Follow up is a MUST. This may be the most important
step to making a networking event turn into profit. Yet,
it is where most networker fail. Use these two
strategies to ensure proper follow-up:
1) The next day following the event you should
send a handwritten card (not an email) to the
people you met. A card will make you stand out
from the crowd and adds a personal touch.
To further personalize the message, mention
something you spoke about and clearly state your
interest to keep in contact. Be sure to include your
2) Within the next two weeks, contact the person
to arrange a meeting for coffee or lunch. This
initial meeting is NOT a sales call - it should be a
relationship building session.
2) Rome was not built in a day and neither
is trust. Use this meeting to learn more
about the person's business, their
challenges, and how your company can be
of assistance. The key here is to listen
Without a doubt, networking can lead to
profitable results. The key is to build trust and
that comes from your contacts getting to know
more about you and your business. Then they
are more likely to work with you or refer
someone else to you.
Michael Ray, President of Renegade Business Solutions,
works with small businesses and helps them get more leads,
make more sales and make more money. He can be
reached at Mike@RenegadeBusinessSolutions.com or at