Tips for Successful Networking
There are some tips for successful networking that will help you make the most out of these important business networking events.
Business networking is essential for building your business, but if you don’t have much experience in this area, rest assured it is a skill you can learn. You may be nervous at the thought of walking into a room full of strangers and promoting yourself, but relax and realize many successful business owners are nervous at these events.
Here are some Tips for Successful Networking:
- The idea behind the 30-second commercial or “elevator speech”, is to imagine you are in an elevator with a potential client and have only 30 seconds to explain what you do. People are busy today and have a short attention span. The quicker you get to the point, the better.
When thinking up your elevator speech, you want to concentrate on the benefits you provide and not your what your business is or what services you provide. People are not interested in what you do but in what you can do for them.
For instance, instead of saying you own a home based business and you provide administrative, bookkeeping, web design, services etc., describe the benefits of using your services.
Example: “I save small business owners time and money by providing cost effective solutions for their administrative tasks, freeing them up to concentrate on building their business”.
- Have your business cards with you and make sure they have a professional appearance that represents you well. You don’t have to spend a fortune on business cards, but do spend enough so that they project you in a professional light. Never attend a networking event without your cards ready to hand out – you never know where you will meet your next client.
- Dress professionally and be well-groomed. You are making a first impression, and first impressions are lasting impressions. Working from your home does not make you less of a professional, so be sure your appearance presents the image you want your potential clients to see.
- You don’t need to work the room quickly and try to meet everyone, but you do want to make as many contacts as you can comfortably. Take time to talk to people and ask questions about their business. You are building relationships that may turn into mutually beneficial business relationships, but that is not your main goal when networking. Everyone is inundated with sales pitches today and most don’t respond to a hard sell. Relax and enjoy meeting new people, much as you would at a social event. Remember, people like doing business with people they know and trust, therefore just concentrate on building a relationship.
- If you know someone who is well connected, ask them to introduce you to some people they know. This is an easy way to network and a great advantage for shy people. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- When you do make a contact, get a business card from them. As soon as possible, jot some notes down on the back of their card – don’t trust your memory. Once you have talked to enough people, your memory of each one will fade. If they share any information about themselves and the services they need, be sure to take note of that for future follow-up.
- You can make a good impression by sending a little note after the event to the contacts you made letting them know you enjoyed meeting them. Make it a quick, handwritten note that just helps them remember you from all of the contacts they have made.
- If you met anyone at the event that seemed like a good prospect for your services, send them a follow-up note right after the event. Use the notes you took to personalize your follow-up and let them know how your services can benefit them. You want to do this quickly before they have a chance to forget you.
Networking is very important for Virtual Assistants, as for any home based business.
You may be very nervous at the idea of networking if you have never attended a networking event before, but once you have gone to a few it will get easier. Just don’t give in to your nerves and get out there and network. It takes courage to run your own business, but if you are considering starting a virtual assistant business, you know that!