How to profit from business networking in 5 easy steps
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How to profit from business networking in 5 easy steps

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http://renegadebusinesssolutions.com The steps contained in this guide will improve your networking skills and lead to more profitable business relationships.

http://renegadebusinesssolutions.com The steps contained in this guide will improve your networking skills and lead to more profitable business relationships.

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  • 1. 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 networking.
  • 2. 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.
  • 3. It's about quality contacts versus quantity. Often, networkers are tempted to distribute and collect as many business cards as possible during a business event. 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 person.
  • 4. 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 their name.
  • 5. 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 heard correctly. 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.
  • 6. 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 manner. Create and practice two introductions: ten seconds or less and thirty second or less. Your introduction should clearly state what you do and for whom. 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 building process. When the person asks for more information about what you do, that is your opportunity to use the thirty second introduction.
  • 7. 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 marketing channels.” Per the above example, an effective introduction should give a clear example of your work and typical results you have helped your clients achieve. 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
  • 8. 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 business card. 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.
  • 9. 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 202-640-1744.