How to Be a Great at Networking

    Small Business Mentoring

    Effective Networking for Sales

    Mark Mikelat - Small Business MentoringQuick and Easy to Follow Tips to Being a Great Networker

    by Mark Mikelat, president of Building Aspirations

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    This week I have a very large marketing conference as part of small business week. I look forward to presenting multiple workshops at this 2000+ person event. Because I am a huge fan of entrepreneurship and small business, and I want to make sure that you get the most that you can out of every business conference that you attend. The personal connection is critical to every business transaction and here are some Quick and Easy to Follow Tips to Being a Great Networker.

    Focus on them

    Please, focus on them. The person, to whom you are speaking, for the one or two minutes in which you are speaking to them, should be the most important person on the planet. Do the best that you can to provide them your direct attention, and listen to them when they are speaking. Focus on the person, not your phone, your watch, or other people in the room. Ask them sincere, direct, and thought-provoking questions. Most people simply focus on themselves with a self-centered message of “We do this…” This message does not help you connect with people, with is critical.

    Connect with them

    The best communicators on the planet are connectors. They are compassionate, empathetic, and authentic. Emulate these traits in your communication. Most often you can do this by actively listening to people. Confirm what they are saying by paraphrasing, and focusing on them and their needs. You can do this powerfully by asking the critical networking question.

    Ask the most important question

    Ask people how you can help them. The simple phrase of “How can I help you?” is a powerful one because it focuses on them. Networking is first about giving. Of course I want you to benefit from your professional networking, but getting can only come after giving. Give of yourself first, to get later. If you help enough people, they will help you. To enable this, have a quick marketing message.

    Have a quick marketing message

    Often times this is referred to as your elevator speech. If you are in an elevator with your fantasy client and you only have 30 second to provide your marketing message, what would you say? Tailoring a good message does take time and effort. From years of aiding small business owners with this, allow me to provide you a very basic tip: Less is more. If you are starting your 30 second marketing message with “Well, 20 years ago….” You are speaking too much. There is NO way that you can adequately explain 20 years of business experience in 30 seconds. The details come in future conversations via your email marketing.

    Ask them to subscribe to your email list

    After your conversation, ask for their contact information and their permission to be subscribed to your email marketing enewsletter. Please ask them, do not simply take their card and put them on your list. It takes 5 seconds to say “May I subscribe you to our enewsletter?” And, 57% of the people, according to a DMI survey in 2014, will say yes. You are connecting, because they verbally agreed. You are focused on them because you asked their permission.

    Follow-up with them

    Next, add them to your email list. You need a list building system that supports your business model. You might collect contact information via business cards, a text message, or card scan. The system might be 100% automated, or 100% manual. I encourage you to think strategically about how and when you will be building your list and develop a system that is manageable. The process should be as automated as possible to avoid data entry issues from human error, but also flexible enough for you to manually enter the contacts from the business cards you might have collected at a smaller event. Your first email marketing message should be of very high value.

    Provide them value first

    Remember, your marketing is about your market, not about you. Please do not use your first marketing message to brag about how awesome you are. Brag to your Grandmother, not your potential client. Provide value to them first. Remember, effective networking is about giving first and getting later. Share tips, give advice, provide recommendations, or expert evaluations about what is important to THEM, not you. By focusing on them first, you engage, intrigue, entice, and more effectively build rapport.

    Putting this All Together

    If you see the value, and need just a bit of help developing a comprehensive strategic marketing plan, let us talk. My business mentoring plan is designed to provide entrepreneurs and small business leaders the coaching they need to develop an effective and efficient plan for finding, converting and retaining clients and customers. Click here to get the conversation started.

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