Does this sound like you?
* You’re spending way too much time trying to network online and are on networking overload.
* You’re trying to keep up with all the threads that relate to your business in all the social networking groups you’ve joined.
* You’re also monitoring all the discussion lists you’re on looking for an opportunity to jump in and share your pearls of wisdom with the others on the list.
* You’re afraid to keep track of the hours you spend in online networking because whatever the number is, it’s way too high.
* You’ve just gotten an invitation to join yet another social networking group and while you’re very flattered, you realize if you join one more group in an effort to network your way to a full client roster, you won’t need any new clients because you’ll be out of business
* You’re spending so much time trying to master online networking that you’ve totally neglected the face-to-face networking that has been working for millions of people for centuries. (Come on, how do you think people built their businesses before the Internet came along?)
I mean, seriously, how much time can you afford to take away from your work to keep current on all the goings on in all the online networking groups you belong to without your business starting to spiral downward?
There is a solution to all this online networking mania and it’s very simple: Cut back on your online networking and up your offline networking. See? I told you it was simple!
Yes, I know, you don’t have time to get in the car, travel to an event, and spend a couple of hours with people you don’t know and will probably never see again, right?
You’ve been to lots of networking mixers and it never seemed to work for you. You’re shy and you don’t want to appear pushy.
Any of this sound familiar? I’m not surprised; I’ve heard it all a million times.
If that’s what you’ve been thinking, you may not understand what networking really is and how it works, and trust me, you’re not alone in this. I have found that the biggest misconception about “networking” is that people think the term is synonymous with going to formal networking events.
That couldn’t be any further from the truth. Networking starts by forming relationships with people, getting to know them and understanding what their needs are while they are likewise getting to know you and understanding your needs.
You can start these powerful relationships anywhere-at your kid’s soccer game, on the commuter train, at the hairdresser’s or at the doctor’s office-so if you’re reluctant to go to networking events, fear not; there are lots of other ways to start the networking ball rolling.
If, however, you do chose to include networking functions in your networking plan, please do yourself a favor and make sure you do everything you possibly can to optimize the experience.
That means, among other things:
* Attending functions where members of your target market (or those who have access to them) will be.
* Crafting a self-introduction that will grab people’s attention and have them practically begging for you to tell them more.
* Knowing in advance exactly whom you want to meet and what you want to get out of the event.
* Having a follow-up plan to stay in touch with the people you meet and deepen the relationships you began at the event.
* Resisting the temptation to sell your product or services at the function.
* Having a list of open-ended questions in your head so you will never be at a loss for something to say.
These are only a few of the things that can help you get the most out of any networking event so you attract more clients than you ever imagined possible, easily and inexpensively. There are others, but the bottom line is this:
BOTTOM LINE: If you want to grow your business, step away from the computer and do what the great sales trainer, Floyd Wickman, has been preaching for years. He says the key to getting more customers and clients comes down to three simple letters: “STP: See The People…belly to belly.”