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Michael S Melfi
For some, the word alone is cringe worthy. For others it’s an invigorating breeze. Regardless of the way you feel about it, it’s necessary for business development. Below are five tips and tricks to become successful at networking.
As a professional, one of our key attributes is the ability to think strategically. Networking strategy is taking the time to identify your target market and identify the events they attend. By putting a strategy behind the execution of networking you are setting yourself up for success at the foundational planning stages. Attempt to find events where your key referral sources are or your target customers will reside. If you attend an event and it isn’t everything you hoped for, it is important to remember not to give up.
Just like a professional athlete studies their opponent in the days leading up to a game, networking and business development is very similar. The willingness to take the time ahead of an event to do some research can make all the difference when attending the actual event.
Some things to consider prior to attending an event:
It amazes me how many professional service providers attend events without at least a business card. It is so important when you’re going to take the time to meet someone to ensure you can connect with them after. If it is appropriate bring other marketing materials such as a brochure or flyer to hand out if the opportunity arises. Regardless of your method for success, ensure you are prepared.
When you think about networking events, there needs to be an outcome — what do you desire to achieve by attending? The natural answer is to say new business. While that is a good outcome, look at it strategically. Set the goal of talking to 10 people, knowing that a meaningful conversation with three of them is considered a success. One of the misconceptions is when people go to events and feel it didn’t go well because they ended up with three to five business cards yet they talked to twenty people. If you think about it, that’s pretty successful.
What you do after an event is just as important as the strategic planning that went into identifying it in the beginning. Follow up and follow through are crucial to business development.
Some ideal follow up ideas are:
Regardless of what your follow up method is, it is important to be an action, and it is also important to take the time to track and measure results. Having a system to identify who you are calling and the responses you are getting are all critical in measuring your success. No matter the type of service a professional service provider offers, the foundation for successful business development remains the same. It is a blend of strategy, preparation, goals and follow-up.
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