Have you referred anyone today?
Networking is a tough thing to do – or at least it’s tough to do well. If you were to look at the whole thing objectively, the primary reason to network is to benefit yourself or your business. After all you want to grow your business, that’s the point.
However, the catch-22 is that if you approach networking with a me first attitude, you will fail (and a lot of people won’t like you very much in the process).
In fact, networking as a small business owner has several things about it that make it very difficult:
- Putting yourself out there. You’ve got to interact with people you don’t know, you have to be friendly, and to be successful at it you need to at least appear to enjoy it.
- Learning and applying the rules: Of course there aren’t really rules, but there are a lot of generally accepted best practices on how to network. Things like not selling at a networking function, listening 2x more than speaking, being engaging but not monopolizing – a lot of great things, but often easier said than done.
- Delivering a succinct, yet interesting description of what you do: The infamous 60 second, 30 second or elevator speech that is intended to pique interest, be memorable but not overly contrived in less than 2 or 3 sentences. There’s a reason that people on Madison Avenue make a lot of money for making commercials – and obviously not even the professionals always get it right.
- Put others first – even though your priority is building your business! This is the conundrum and it really involves a bit of a leap of faith. You have to believe and appreciate that you will, eventually, generate positive responses and referrals from others but that will be much more likely and stronger if you help other people out first! As Dr. Ivan Misner of BNI says “Givers Gain”.
- Accept that it will take a long time for people to be comfortable enough to refer you. In this case, a long time probably means at least 4 to 6 months, and that’s with people you see fairly often. Part of that time is due to building up credibility, part of it is that people need to Know, Like and Trust you before they’ll do anything and part of it is that it may take them a while to really understand what you do – especially if you haven’t perfected your pitch.
My single best suggestion for getting past all of these issues?
Participate! Just get out there. It takes repetition, practice, involvement and time, but you will get better – especially as you gravitate towards groups that you enjoy. Even though it’s a really challenging thing to do well, it can be a lot of fun – and eventually it will be, and it will help you grow your business.
What are your suggestions for networking? Share them here.
Shawn Kinkade www.aspirekc.com