I hope I’m about to change the way you view small business networking for female entrepreneurs. If you’ve heard that before, and still have the same amount of contempt for stuffy luncheons in random hotel meeting rooms with people you don’t know, well then you’re in for a treat.
You see, up until now, you’ve probably viewed networking events as a challenge to see how many business cards you can put in the hands of others, how many times you can deliver your elevator pitch, how many times you can impress someone with your business acuity and passion…
and I’m about to teach you how you’ve been going about it all wrong.The most effective kind of small business networking isn’t nearly as difficult as it’s been made out to be, and I believe it’ll be right up your alley. Click To Tweet
Make YOUR Small Business Networking All About THEM
I think most of us have been conditioned to believe that we must become comfortable talking about ourselves and selling our businesses in order to be effective networkers. When, in fact, the best networking happens when we do something that comes more naturally to us as women.
When you approach every small business networking event with a spirit of giving, you will receive without even having to ask.
Not sure how that could possibly work?
Here is a summary of the Givers Gain strategy in four simple points:
- Be Curious. When you meet someone, ask them about their business or their goals (depending on whether they’re a business owner, investor, a potential customer or possible new-hire). Show a genuine interest in finding out more about them…without ulterior motives and without looking for a spot to jump in with information about your business. Make it all about them and how much you can learn.
- Gather Information. As you’re asking questions and learning more about the person you’ve met, take notes, be sure to get their business card…accumulate as much information as possible about them, their business, what they have achieved, what they wish to achieve, and more…in physical form so you can refer to it later. They will not only be flattered that you’ve taken the time to commit them to memory, they will know that you’re thoroughly interested in making a connection with them.
- Express Interest with Body Language. Anyone can ask questions and take notes, but the most successful networkers do it all with a genuine sense of attentiveness and concern. Maintain eye contact. Uncross your arms and keep your shoulders low, back and relaxed. Point your feet toward the person you’re speaking to. Tilt your head and nod to indicate understanding.
- Avoid Talking About Your Business. As you ask questions and listen intently, avoid the temptation to interject information about you or your business. I know, this seems counterintuitive to small business networking. Stay with me here. You’ll understand in a moment.
And after you’ve gotten as much information as your prospective connection cares to share, sit back and wait for it…
they’re going to ask you about you and your business.Only after they ask you about your business should you give them a business card. Click To Tweet
And when you do so, and begin to talk about your business, be sure to tell your story in a manner that will appeal to them (based on what they’ve already told you).
This is not the time for a hard sell—no matter the role you see this person playing.
It’s about making them want to know more about your business because you have shown such a robust interest in them. It’s also about drumming up a level of curiosity on their part so that when you do follow up in 24 to 48 hours, they will be happy to meet with you for coffee.
Here’s the thing: Most of the people you give business cards to will never call you. The better strategy is to focus on getting more business cards than you distribute. That puts the power of the follow-up in your court. Most networking event connections are never followed up on. You cannot affect others’ motivation to call. You can, however, take that initiative.
So that’s the Givers Gain strategy for small business networking:
- Be Curious
- Gather Information
- Express Interest
- Make it All About Them
I can assure you that your networking efforts will be far more fruitful. The connections you make will not only be plentiful, they will be of a higher quality, with more partnership, marketing and profit potential.
Not many small businesses can survive without effective networking. If you’d like to learn more about what you can do to make your small business more visible and profitable, we’ve just released a Masterclass in the Fempire Academy. You can learn more about the Academy by clicking here.
Marnie LeFevre is the Founder of Fempire. She is also a #1 bestselling author and marketing expert who has made it her mission to support women to achieve the success they deserve and to lead with confidence. She believes women can achieve anything with the right support and a sisterhood to back them up.