Let me start by saying this isn't our typical blog post. There won't be any complicated legal terms or examples. Instead, we want to take this opportunity to place focus on something our clients encounter all the time: networking.
Now I know what you're thinking, "this isn't related to law." And you're right, it's not exactly; but we're also in the business of advising. We'll do whatever we can to help your company grow, so we often go beyond the boundaries of law. After all, many of our team members own businesses themselves, so we know the value of things like networking.
But enough about us. Let's discuss the importance of networking for you as a business person.No matter what line of work you're in, generating business is a must. But building a business isn’t simple, especially when you're just getting started. It takes hard work and relationship building (among many other things). And that's when networking comes in. Networking shouldn't be seen as just a one-way street. You have to see it as a mutual benefit. You should listen first, and then educate. In other words, build relationships – they'll pay off in the long-run.
So now that we know networking is important, how should you go about it? Well, I'm glad you asked. Here are some processes, tips, and etiquette to get you started:
- Don't simply limit networking to professional events. It can happen naturally. Think of meeting new people by joining nonprofit boards, engaging at church, or at your kid's soccer matches.
- This sounds simple, but smile and be friendly. Your body language can go a long way in a conversation. And make sure you're listening attentively to each and every person you interact with. Don't just go through the motions. You won't come across as genuine.
- Educate the person you're speaking with on your company, and don't be afraid to ask about their needs.
- Also, add a bit personality to your conversation. Don't just ask about work-related topics -- that gets old. Remember, you're building relationships.
- If you can, research the individuals you're interacting with beforehand. Have a goal in mind for the conversation, and if necessary, approach the most important targets first.
- Think of others, too. Even if the person you’re speaking to doesn’t need something in your specific focus area, you may be able to refer them a team member or other professional connection.
- After you’re finished connecting, write a quick note or two on the back of the business card you were given about what you discussed. This will come in handy when you follow up.
- Follow up quickly. This is arguably just as important as the interaction itself. This could be an email, phone call, message on LinkedIn or Twitter, or a letter in the mail.
- Even if there isn’t immediate work, don’t be afraid to continue following up. Statistics show that 80% of sales are made between the fifth and twelfth contact.
- Lastly, if you’re introverted or shy, find a role model you can emulate. Networking takes practice and is not something that can be mastered overnight.
Think of anything we should add to the list? We'd love to hear from you. Or, if you just want to talk business in general, give us a call at 317.777.7920, or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.