Business networking pro tips: what should you talk about?
For those new to networking, visiting a meeting can be daunting. What do you talk about? How do you build relationships that will help you grow your business? Karen Brooks of Pellings Business Solutions has this advice to share.
I’m a big fan of business networking - the people I have met at various groups including ONLE have proven to be enormously important to grow my virtual assistant business. The connections and support I have received have provided the perfect springboard, helping me build awareness of the services I provide and ultimately generate business.
However, there is a right and a wrong way to approach business networking. I learnt a long time ago that going to a networking meeting once a month, doing your 60 second-pitch and just sending follow up emails is not the way build your business and grow your empire!
You must invest time building relationship, and this means listening to the other members’ pitches and getting to know them outside of the meetings. To do this, book one-to-one meetings.
What is a one-to-one meeting?
It means sitting down, one-to-one, with a person you have been introduced to at a networking meeting and learning more about them and what they do. When you’re in these meetings, ask open questions and don’t be afraid to explore topics outside of business as getting to know the real person helps build trust.
Here are some example topics that I have found work:
• Past career and experience?
• Why they started their business?
• When did they launch?
• What are their future plans for the business?
• Ask about their business i.e products, specialise in, best sellers?
• What are good referrals for them?
By asking these questions you will not only learn about what makes them who they are, but you will learn what drives them and what type of business they are looking for. A good one-to-one should take approximately one hour. Take 30 minutes each talking about you and your business and you should be able to walk away with a great understanding of who you have met.
If you are only having a 20 minute one-to-one this is NOT the way to build a relationship and potentially secure business from them in the future or get that well-needed referral.
I was told recently that I am the most bubbly and engaging virtual assistant they have met. This was an amazing compliment. To leave this kind of positive impressive impression and build lasting business connection, my advice is:
• Make people feel relaxed
• Care about the people you meet
• Be mindful of opportunities to refer business to the people you meet. This means listening to the pitch, getting to know the individual and listen out for people mentioning needing help which relates to their area of specialism,
I follow these guidelines and have found that people want me on their team to help grow their business as I spend the time investing in building my relationship with them and NOT just selling my services.
Remember people buy from people and if you don’t invest your time in getting to know other members, you won't build your connections which won't result in any future business.