Would you describe yourself as a “confident networker”? Are you someone who looks forward to going to networking meetings, or do they fill you with dread? Just like Sales or Marketing, Networking is a skill you can learn, refine and upgrade throughout your career. At Focus Guru, I work with business owners and employees, teaching key networking skills that make a real difference.
Most people have been to a face-to-face networking meeting at some point. Whether it was through choice or recommended by the boss, you might have found yourself attending a sitting down breakfast meeting or a “mix and mingle” walk around the room meeting. While sitting and standing networking have pros and cons the key networking skills remain the same.
In my Focus Guru Power Hours I cover the key networking skills in more detail, however these are my Top 5 Tips for building confidence when attending online or offline networking meetings.
5 tips to being a confident networker
Tip 1 – Know Your Product Inside Out
It might seem obvious but having detailed knowledge of your product or service is essential to ward off difficult questions or embarrassing pauses. If you are asked something unusual, a tip is to thank the person for their question, say you’ll need to research the answer, make a note so you remember after the meeting, and send them the answer at the next available opportunity. It can also help to have a handful of “set phrases” you can reel off to answer common questions.
Tip 2 – Stand Tall And Project Your Voice
If you’re sitting down, stand up when it’s time to deliver your 40 seconds introduction, and speak a little slower and a little louder. This makes sure you have everyone’s attention. It also helps those who are hard of hearing or lip reading. If there are other conversations going on, it ensures your message gets through. In online meetings, it pays to do a sound check on your microphone before the meeting starts and always remember to unmute yourself before you speak.
Tip 3 – Smile And Be The Positive Person
A genuine smile goes a long way in networking circles. Being known as a positive person goes even further. Life is tough and running a business can be even tougher, but if you can share a good news story, find something cheerful to say, make a compliment, or even deliver a “good morning” with a smile, you’ll find people are drawn to you. This forms the “Meet” and “Like” in the 4Networking mantra “Meet, Like, Know, Trust”, the foundation of friendships and business relationships.
Tip 4 – Involve Others, Even Your Competition
A confident networker isn’t scared of the competition. Even if you’re a travel agent and there are three other travel agents in the room, it’s not a problem. The confident networker sees the competition as an opportunity for collaboration, outsourcing surplus work and taking on new clients. You might want to mention another networker in your introduction, someone you’ve helped or who’s helped you. It shows you are a well-connected person, a “go-to” person, which again draws people towards you.
Tip 5 – Look For Your Target Customers
While you’re waiting to talk about your business, listen carefully to how the other networkers introduce themselves. Is there an opportunity lurking in their 40 seconds? I recommend making plenty of notes about who you’d like to speak with, either in the meeting or afterwards. If you sell books to children, who are the parents in the room? If you deep clean houses, who are the estate agents or landlords in the room? If you’re an accountant, how many people will need to submit tax returns this month? From working with clients in different industries over the years, I know this tip alone has brought in many new opportunities for them.
Bonus Tip – Follow Up
I cannot recommend following up enough. It’s the key to forging friendships and the foundation of business relationships. A simple email after the meeting, a text message or a phone call, is all it takes. If you would like help organising a structure to your follow-ups, installing a CRM system, or simply having an Accountability Partner to make sure you do your follow-ups, please contact me and I’d be happy to help.
I offer a free 15-minute chat to talk about what you want to achieve from networking with the opportunity to follow this up with a Focus Guru Power Hour tailored to your needs.
Rachael Chiverton, Focus Guru – Giving You Your Time, Your Way with no Squirrels