Networking is such a hot topic and even though you think this is something that is relatively new, I first wrote about networking events on this blog over 7 yrs ago! While I thought a refresher post would be helpful, the bottom line is that some things are still the same when it comes to networking for your direct sales or small business.
Today, there are plenty of different methods of networking that it can easily become overwhelming to you. But using local networking methods and events will help you grow your direct sales business.
Here are a few things to look for when starting the networking process for your business:
• One of the first things you want to do is find and event that is convenient and at a time that you can continue to participate on a regular basis.
• Look for a networking group that has a topic or theme that fits in with the niche you want to promote. Going too far out of your niche may be a stretch and then you will not get the response that you are looking for.
• You can look at local chamber meeting. These are great for getting to know your local independent business owners as well as a great avenue for getting your name out in your community. Local businesses love to support each other.
• There are also local MeetUp.com groups that meet on a huge range of topics. Whether you are looking for business groups, reading groups, religious groups, mommy type groups, social media groups or whatever your desire, you can find that through the MeetUp.com system. There are a lot of groups that are super active and offer little to no cost.
• Also available are the BNI meeting groups. These are awesome for true networking and lead passage. You will meet a large array of local businesses that join the group for a year or more at a time. The cost of this group is a bit higher and you need to commit to attendance policies. The rewards of this type of group can be beneficial. You can visit as a guest a few times before committing.
Tips for Using Networking Events
When participating in your group, make sure to always bring your business cards. Make it a point to take some time to really talk and get to know people. Networking is about helping someone else solve their immediate problem or need. It is not about trying to get as many people as possible to listen to your 30 second elevator speech, although you do need to have one.
When you are chatting with a business member, ask them important questions about them. Learn what their business is and does. Ask about their likes and dislikes in their business or issues they may be having. Try and get to know something interesting about them. After you move on to another person, make a few notes on their business card about what you talked about so that you can remember. The following day, drop them a note about how much you enjoyed meeting them and, “Hey, here might be a solution something we chatted about” or an article you may like pertaining to their business, etc. If you really hit it off, ask them to coffee or something.
Use these tips to help you work your networking events successfully. Don’t try and run through a room and meet everyone. Don’t try and pass your business cards out to everyone. Make each connection special so they remember you and you remember them. Each one of those connections is very valuable. You may need them some day and having a great local contact is worth its price in gold so use them wisely to grow your direct sales business.