Networking has become a very popular way of growing your business and it is great for women who work from home or alone most of the time.
Your business will benefit from networking not only because you are making new contacts but because you are having a social time with other women in the same position as you, which is refreshing. Networking can also be daunting the first few times so before you fall into bad networking habits, here are a few tips.
The fear of being judged or that you will be caught out faking it is common amongst women in business. Who cares what anyone else thinks? You need to like yourself, to be comfortable with yourself and to network from that foundation of being at peace with yourself. You are who you are, some people will like you and others won’t. It will ALWAYS be that way, you will NEVER please all of the people all of the time! So stop wearing yourself out by trying. Let go and be yourself. It’s better for them and it’s better for you. Most importantly, remember that most of the women at the network event feel the same way you do.
Be comfortable in what you wear and how you present yourself. Your clothes are a reflection of who you are and if you are dressing to impress rather than dressing to express then you will be sending out a mixed message. Also, be comfortable with what you have to say rather than sounding like you have a well rehearsed pitch prepared. Try telling them a brief story from your working week, tell how your business impacted someone rather or tell them what you love about what you do. Chat naturally like you would to a good friend rather than reciting your pitch to them – that way you will both feel a little bit more relaxed and less like you are both trying to sell to each other.
There is nothing worse than realising that you have been lied to. Sadly, people do lie. They call them white lies to justify them but any form of lie is a lack of integrity. Natural networking requires integrity. People can sense when something is not quite right and they will automatically resist you when this happens. Using manipulation or making your offer more attractive with a little white lie will only cost you in the long run. Integrity is more than honesty; it is the combination of honesty with strong moral principles.
It’s not all about you – be interested in what they have to say too. Women that work the room are often avoided, so rather than chatting to everyone, take time to really get to know one or two people at each event. Take time to actually care about what they have to say rather than mentally scan the conversation to find a gap to sell something to them. Of course, if you have something that could solve their problem then by all means share it with them. But don’t go to networking events to sell, sell, and sell! Networking events are designed to connect people and you are more likely to grow your business by connecting with people than you will by trying to sell to every person you meet. Not everyone needs what you have to offer believe it or not! People buy into people. If you made them feel good the chances are they will want to see you again. If you made them feel bad or pressured to buy they might avoid you or the whole network event.
I only realised that I really needed business cards after going to my first networking event. In fact I made every single mistake at this event and was not prepared at all – but I did have a collection of my books to sell. Prepare yourself for networking events by going prepared with:
Get some stylish business cards printed and take them with you wherever you go. Your business card says a lot about you and your business so don’t rush into getting just anything printed.
Your pitch is your verbal business card and you should put as much into crafting your pitch as you did in designing your business cards. More often than not you get about 60 seconds to pitch to the networking group. It’s not a lot of time but if you have planned well it is the perfect amount of time to get people interested in what you do. You pitch should be positive, passionate and show your personality – so just be you! Hook them early because 80% of your success will depend on the first words that come out of your mouth. This is what your pitch should contain:
– A greeting and your name (Hello I am…)
– Who you are (I am a…..)
– What you do and how you can help (I offer…..)
– Why you do it (My passion is….)
– A call to action (Watch my latest clips on YouTube)
Practice makes perfect so practice by saying it out loud a few times. Pay attention to the tone of your voice, your body language and smile. Afterwards ask friends for feedback so you can get better each time.
Happy people are attractive and no one likes being around someone with a dark cloud over their head. On most days happiness is a choice, you can choose your perceptive on anything and if you do not feel happy try get a new angle on what is making you sad. It’s not that you have to be fake or pretend that you have no problems, but there is a time and a place for everything so try be a happy natural networker! – Angela