High Desert Daily
Positive Ideas for High Desert Business
(Victor Valley)–There is plenty of gloomy updates from traditional media on the state of our economy, but we, as a community, can choose to look for the great things we CAN do, right now, to improve our economic outlook. In a new weekly column, the High Desert Daily is bringing positive news and ideas that may be useful for your High Desert business. We welcome your comments, ideas and questions in the comments and for future columns.
The first networking event I ever attended was an unmitigated disaster. I was a 22-year old marketing coordinator for an engineering firm and I was intimidated by the much older architects and contractors at the event. The majority of my time was spent talking to the waiters and then hiding in the bathroom until I felt I could go home. Your experiences might not be quite as tragic, but many of us have had less than great experiences trying to promote our business in a room full of people and wondered, “Why bother?”
Well, I can tell you that there are many great reasons to bother. Even if you are naturally shy like me, there are benefits to be had for your business. Networking is a long-term strategy to strengthen your business.
Ten major benefits of networking
1. Learn dynamics within your industry
2. Establish your own roster of business contacts that will last throughout your career
3. Get “plugged in” to your community and have doors opened you might not have otherwise heard about or had access to
4. Finding new career opportunities
5. Facilitate win-win relationships by connecting your contacts with each other, thus increasing your value to them
6. Accelerating your own professional development by learning from peers and those with more experience
7. Develop knowledge resources to grow your business, such as taxes, human resources, logistics or other areas
8. Giving and receiving targeted leads and referrals
9. The opportunity to be “in” with important decision-makers as they make things happen
10. Present yourself to suppliers, customers and potential business partners in a personal, relate-able way
Ok, so you may believe that spending a few hours preparing for, attending and following up on a networking event is worth your while. How do you actually DO it though? Here are some tips to make the event go more smoothly and feel confident.
- Re-introduce yourself. If you see someone you have met before, give them your name again. They may want to say hello but are embarrassed to have forgotten it.
- Look for people standing alone. We have all had those moments. Reach out and introduce yourself to someone with no one to talk to.
- Share the love. After a few minutes of getting to know someone, introduce them to a person you already know. Share a fact or two you have learned about each to get the conversation rolling. Then find someone new to meet!
- Listen! If you don’t what to say to someone new, simply ask them what they do and who their ideal client is. You may have the perfect lead for them.
- Give and take. Networking is not just about making a sale tonight. It is a long-term strategy that helps you build roots in a community. Think about what you can offer people through leads, events, resources, or ideas.
- Short and sweet. Practice sharing what you do in under a minute. People can always ask more questions but this way you don’t monopolize someone’s time. Don’t be “that guy”!
- Follow up. This is the biggest missed opportunity! Send an email, a handwritten note, or a phone call to demonstrate that you appreciate meeting them and hope to be referring business to them in the future.
Although I still get nervous before a big event, thankfully I don’t have to hide in the bathroom anymore! Practice makes perfect. (Desperately needing to make a sale helps too!) My favorite tip if you are a shy networker is to look for the person who looks as uncomfortable as you feel. Seek them out and introduce yourself. After a few minutes of conversation, I will even ask them if they know anyone else at the event. Introducing a new contact is a good ice breaker, a reason to talk to a previous acquaintance.
Remember, people buy from people they trust and like. The more a person gets to know you, even at a monthly networking event, the more likely they are to refer their friends, family and associates to you.
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Now get out there and start networking!