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Business Networking 101 - Networking Tips & more... (pg 2)

 

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Have a message strategy (elevator pitch)
When connecting with others, determine their interests and establish a rapport before delivering your branding statement. What is an elevator pitch? Imagine you are entering an elevator and the president of your company, or the potential client you have been trying to reach for months walks in. You basically have about 30 seconds until you reach the third floor and the other person walks away. Within these thirty seconds you will want to introduce yourself politely, share VERY briefly who you are and what you do, and give the other person your business card. Remember - people want to know 'what's in it for them'. You simply want to make an impression, hopefully a good and memorable one, NOT a sale! Be patient - it may take bumping into that person a few times over the next couple of years before they feel comfortable to refer someone to you or even do business with you.

Ask yourself and your friends "How many celebrities, millionaires, C-level executives, gatekeepers, and influential people do you know? How many of these individuals know you by name? Remember - The key to success is not what you know, or who you know, it's who knows you! It's not that these type of people are better than others, but they tend to be CENTERS OF INFLUENCE! People usually listen to whatever they have to say, and attend events they appear at. They can make a phone call and make things happen, without having to explain themselves much, simply because their reputation, position, etc, allows them to.

Example - we all know who the president of the United States is. The question is - does he know who YOU are? A recommendation, or even an acknowledgement of your presence, may make that slight difference to 'get your foot in the door' for your next opportunity! When you meet such individuals, take advantage of the opportunity to make that first good impression.

The best sound people like to hear is their own name. It's flattering when strangers recognize you, by name. It can also be very frustrating and embarrassing when you don't remember someone else's name. A simple tip to remember another's name is to repeat it in your mind, and out loud when acknowledging the person you are meeting. It is also very important you make an effort to pronounce the person's name correctly. People will appreciate it and better yet, they may remember you too. Please DO NOT try to shorten or mispronounce someone else's name - it is very disrespectful and annoying. Ethnic names could be difficult to pronounce, but not impossible. Make a decent effort, and others will appreciate you for it.

Personal example - often people have a difficult time pronouncing my name, Cesar (Ceh - sar). It's not Cecil or Ceyzar, or Ceaser! Some people do not care to show any courtesy or make the slightest effort to pronounce my name correctly. I will then politely correct them and most people are ok with that. Occasionally I have politely mispronounced their name awfully (example: Larraay vs Larry) just to show them how it feels. Some people understand, others will never 'get it'... Do you think I will care to refer them to someone else or even do business with them? I think not!


Your body language is very important

How you present and receive business cards could make or break the initial impression. Treat the business card as a very valuable and fragile document. It represents YOU on a small piece of paper. Present your business card to another with respect and dignity - hold it with both hands, and the text on the card should face the person you are speaking with. Your body language can often say much more than your words. Try tossing your business card to another and see how they react? Likewise, when you receive a business card, you should receive it as if it were very valuable, in both hands, read it, and then acknowledge and thank the person giving it to you. In Asian cultures, you would bow (even lower for higher-ranking individuals) when you receive a business card. To not do so would be viewed as extremely disrespectful.


Be effective with your time and money
Time is money, and your time is valuable. Too many times we miss out on excellent opportunities to grow our business, meet our next employer, client, or that special person in our lives, simply because we are NOT effective with our time and resources. Likewise, many networking events unfortunately seem more like friend reunions than business mixers.

Before you attend ANY event, ask yourself what your goal is. Do you want to meet new people and grow your personal and professional network OR do you want to visit with your friends and acquaintances?


Networking is mostly about making the initial contact.

Developing relationships and growing your business happens when you follow up with the persons you meet! We highly suggest you acknowledge your friends and devote more time to meeting new people. You could always meet up with your friends before or after the mixer. You may not always have that second chance to meet you next best client.

Approach as many people as possible at an event, especially the individuals who are standing by themselves. It is usually easier to approach an individual than a group already engaged in a conversation. As mentioned before, welcome them, say 'how are you doing?' The rest is easy.

How to approach a group already engaged in a conversation - just stand there and when you get eye contact with someone, simply introduce yourself. If the group is 'cliquey' and 'closed in' and not approachable, show some dignity, and walk away! Why would you want to connect with people who are closed off at a networking event? Whatever you do, please do not interrupt them - this could backfire badly for you.


Should You Join a Networking Group or Organization?

Note - many networking organizations and business referral networking groups charge membership fees, and meet regularly with the same 90-95% of the same attendance. People in some of these groups repeat their elevator pitches each time they meet (with the same people) - very boring and annoying! They claim they are developing relationships with each other, over a long period of time. How much time do you need to get to know someone? It makes little to no common sense to keep meeting with the same people (unless it is a group of friends) regularly! Although you may get a substantial number of leads from a handful of people, imagine how many more leads and income you will generate by meeting MORE people!! Common sense is not always so common...

Remember - The main purpose of any business is to grow. If your business or organization is not growing, it it NOT a business, it is a hobby! Are you running a business/organization or are you spending your time and resources on your hobby? Common sense and statistics dictate your business will grow much more by meeting new people regularly than by talking with the same small group. Do you want to network and grow your business OR do you want to socialize with the same people?

We highly encourage others to network everywhere and as often as possible. We do not discourage others from joining organizations, BUT we do suggest you ask the following questions next time you consider joining a networking organization, chamber of commerce, or leads group:

  • How old is the organization?
  • How large is the group / organization? How many members? How many chapters? Where?
  • How often do they organize networking events?
  • How many newcomers (%) attend their events? (is it the typical 90-95% of the same people?)
  • Is it truly a networking organization OR is it a venue for business owners to socialize?
  • How popular, well-known, respected is the organization?
  • What kind of ranking on major search engines does the organization's website get?
  • What's in it for me? How will the organization help my business grow?
  • How will the organization's website help my business? What resources does it provide?
  • Does the organization's website have a business directory? (300 categories and a 4-line ad does not count)
  • Will paying membership dues, or even attending their events be worth your time and money?
  • What will be your Return on Investment (ROI)?


Hold the sales pitch
No one likes to be sold to. Use a brief  'elevator pitch.' Do not make long-winded sales presentations. Better yet - do not give a sales pitch. Ask people how you may help them. If they are polite, they in turn, will ask you how they could help you. You then briefly share what you do and what you want (it's not a sales pitch when they ask you). You could also offer to help them or be of help by giving them your business card and/or invitation.

Many business owners distribute flyers. We distribute invitations; same piece of paper, different approach. People generally like to receive invitations - to attend or participate in an event, or to change another's life (awesome approach for non-profits in need of volunteers and funding). We will give someon a flyer and walk away. If they show some interest, they will usually ask, what is this about? You then have an opening to introduce yourself and share your elevator pitch (after you ask them 'how may I help you?'). If they do not show any interest, just walk away and approach the next person. It simply is not worth your time and effort to talk to people who show no interest. There are many more fish in the sea...

The best salespeople are the best connectors. You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Offer to help others, and in time (sooner than you could imagine), others will refer new clients to you, simply because they like YOU, regardless how great your product or service may be!


Make it a team activity
Invite others and they may help you maximize coverage at an event. Let's do some basic math:

  • How much would it cost you to hire and train a salesforce for your business?
  • How much money do you spend on advertising each month?
  • How much do you invest in attending networking events each month?
  • How much will it cost you to ask someone else 'How may I help you?' (nothing)
  • How much will it cost you when someone offers to help you? (again, nothing).
Following is how you could have a HUGE salesforce, for free! Next time you attend a networking event, after the basic introductions, ask others how you may help them. You hear them out, make some mental notes, or write notes on the back of their business cards, and then share with them what you do. Ask them what kind of people are they targeting or looking forward to meet. Offer to introduce them to such people when you meet them during the event. Likewise, ask them politely 'would you do the same for me?' They would have to be very rude not to do so! Follow this approach with the next ten people you meet. Now you have grown your salesforce, for free! You could sweeten 'the deal' by offering to pay a referral fee for any business generated from introductions. Note - a referral is always much more valuable than a cold call!


Get involved
Remember - Give and you shall receive. What goes around, comes around. Helping others is fun too! You could act as a host at the next event you attend. Sponsor the event and/or volunteer to help - you will gain more visibility and new clients! Volunteer to greet people at the door - this is one of the best ways to get noticed. Lead by example. Just do it!


Contact Us
THANK YOU for taking your valuable time to read this article. We hope you find it useful. Please share it with others. We welcome your ideas, questions, and comments, and we look forward to seeing you, your friends and colleagues at our upcoming business networking mixers. See you soon!
• Cesar Plata, Founder everyCircle.com, 408 352-5932, 408 239-9006 cell, cplata@everycircle.com


 

Networking Resources

by Cesar Plata, Founder everyCircle.com:
Networking 101 Flyer
How to Organize Effective & Successful Events, Business Networking Expos and Mixers
Money for Your Business Referrals - Proposal for Media, Organizations and Businesses

 

 by Mike Aguilera, Communication Expert, 408 972-1985, www.MikeAguilera.com:
The Art of Networking Book - Discover how to work a room and create business.
The Instant Rapport Formula DVD Set - How to Connect with Anyone in 90 Seconds or Less!
Conquer the Fear of Public Speaking Audio
Networking for Fun & Profit eBook
Success Program to Get You Hired - Job Interview communication techniques and strategies for a successful interview
The Instant Zone Technique - Discover how to instantly go into a poised and confident state... your own natural zone state. Learn an ancient technique that will help you instantly generate confidence. Great for presentations, sales, negotiations, or any situation that would cause nervousness.


A-Z Tips for Networking, Things to Do and Avoid
Executive Relationship Management
Networking Magic
Networking-The State of the Industry 2006
Networking in the Hispanic Community
Social Media vs. Face to Face Marketing

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