Networking: Make Those Connections Happen

Business Coach and Investment Capitalist Bill Walsh tells business owners, “Make at least 20 new quality connections per day.” The easiest way to do this is through networking in order to mix and mingle with other professionals, to exchange information on your business and to create relationships deeper than sales so you can grow strong referral partnerships.
If you are new to networking, understand that it can take place in various arenas, including in restaurants and civic halls, at seminars and workshops, at parties and social gatherings and more. Some of the best networking goes on outside of formal meetings, when participants connect for coffee or drinks to strategize. Often called one-on-ones or masterminds, these mini-meetings have been known to produce tremendous ideas and collaborations.
When attending a networking meeting, especially for the first time:
  • Dress nicely in something appropriate to the environment. If you are going for drinks in a fancy restaurant after hours, consider suits. If you are attending luncheons midday, business casual is probably fine. Avoid jeans, t-shirts, shorts, skimpy clothing and outfits that do not represent you as a professional.
  • Pay attention to verbal and body language. In some ways, meeting new people at networking groups is like going on a job interview. Put into action all those habits you know will get you the job – good manners and eye contact, as well as a firm handshake.
  • Have an authentic elevator speech. This means be able to explain, in sixty seconds or less and in a way that doesn’t come off as a sales pitch, what you do and how you help people.
  • Ask others about themselves before talking about yourself. It’s not just about being polite. It’s about nurturing a genuine interest in others and learning more about the professionals in the group.
  • Bring plenty of business cards. Even if you are meeting a small group or an individual, you never know how many people will show up or how many cards your fellow networkers will want.
  • Bring a calendar. You will want to set up one-on-ones and masterminds as well as follow-ups on the spot. The goal is to create connections and times to foster those relationships right away.
  • Even if you can’t provide referrals, offer something exclusively to the group. For example, you might run a free workshop or promotion.
  • Attend multiple groups to see what feels right. Ask yourself what you are trying to accomplish and whether the group has similar goals. You might decide to join multiple groups if permitted.
You will probably find there are dozens of networking groups in your general area. The good news is, if there are not, you can always start one. Just ask your colleagues and request they bring a friend. Before long, you will be networking like a pro and increasing your bottom line.

Katherine Gotthardt, CEO

Katherine Gotthardt, M.Ed., writing concentration, has been writing, editing and teaching for more than twenty years. For the past ten years, she has focused on content development and content marketing for small to mid-size businesses, writing and disseminating material that increases client visibility while supporting their brand. Besides being published in dozens of journals, Katherine has authored five books: Poems from the Battlefield, Furbily-Furld Takes on the World, Approaching Felonias Park, Weaker Than Water and Bury Me Under a Lilac. Learn more about her creative life at www.KatherineGotthardt.com.