Monday, May 17, 2010

Networking Know-Hows

When I started Kalico Design, I was terrified of networking! I knew it was a very important way to market Kalico and get my name out, but I had to force myself to 1) Go to a Networking event in the first place, 2) Actually talk to people and 3) Feel comfortable and productive doing it.

But, as I continued to attend events, I realized Networking is mostly about building working relationships and learning how I can help others. (Which, in turn, usually means that someone will also be trying to learn how they can help me...ahhh the universe is in balance!) Approaching networking events with this mentality doesn't seem scary at all, it just seems like a great way to meet, get to know, and possibly work with other like-minded business people! (OK, so maybe it's still intimidating sometimes, but I no longer have to drag myself kicking and screaming to events any longer!)

Here are some interesting facts and valuable tips that may help you at your next networking event:

1. Traits of a Good Networker:
According to Ivan Misner's Referral Institute study, the top five traits of a good networker are:

1. Enjoys Helping Others
2. Is Trustworthy
3. Is a Hard Worker
4. Follows Up
5. Is a Good Listener

2. Important Things to Ask Yourself:

Figuring out which types of networking events will be the most productive for you and your business may take some trial and error. Here are three questions that may help you decide:

Who Are My Best Prospects?
Decide if you are targeting businesses or consumers. Think about factors such as industry type, business size, and location.

Where Are My Best Prospects? Different events bring on different types of people/businesses. For instance, if you are targeting small business, you may want to try Chamber of Commerce events or local business associations. Whereas, if you prefer to target representatives from large corporations, your better bet may be through service clubs, nonprofit groups, or volunteer work.

Who Do I Really Want To Meet? Be specific when asking for a contact or connection. Ask with an open-ended question to generate a better response. For instance, if I ask: "Do you know anyone who needs a logo". The answer will most like be "no", end of conversation. But, if I ask "Who do you know who just started a small business and is looking to distinguish themselves from their competition with an eye-catching visual identity?", I've not only made my request very specific, but I've also potentially opened up the conversation for further discussion.

Do you have other suggestions on how to be a good networker? We'd love to hear them!