Word of mouth networking is considered as one of the fastest ways to grow a business. However, not all of us are experts in networking and find it hard to sell ourselves to strangers. Called reluctant networkers, we are that group of businessmen who always tend to think that networking is either a waste of time, or find ourselves panicking at the very thought of attending a networking event.
Why are networks so important in the business world?
This is a question every reluctant networker asks from time to time. If you find yourself asking the same question more than once, then here are some pointers that will enlighten you on why networks are necessary for a business.
Networks offer a cost effective way to build the business. There is no need to worry about the marketing budget as long as you have it in you to go out there and build a strong network. This will increase brand awareness as well as the visibility of your service considerably, thus translating to better business automatically.
The power of these networks is such that they open doors that other forms of marketing like advertising do not. So if you are looking to build your business, start learning how to network. These tips will help you along the way.
Tips on how to make the networking experience easier
- Choose proper networking events
If you are a reluctant networker, consider choosing events with content or structured networking activities. In the case of the former, you already have a net (the basics) on which you need to build your network on. In the case of the latter, you can simply follow the structured networking activities to strike up conversations with other individuals rather than resort to organic conversations.
- Be on time
It is always hard to break into a conversation that has already started. The reluctant networker that you are, you need to attend an event on time or reach the venue before it begins. This will make it easier for you to join in on a conversation rather than butt in on one that has already started.
- Become the host
If you not good at networking, consider becoming the host instead. Welcome guests to the event, make them comfortable, pass around the drinks and food, and introduce guests to each other. This, in turn, will allow you to meet all the guests at the event and build your own network in the midst of hosting the party.
- Discuss only positive topics
When conversing with someone for the first time, make sure you stick to positive topics. Stay away from topics that can create differences of opinions and even clashes. You want your contact to have only happy thoughts when he thinks of you. So stay away from topics related to religion, politics and so on while networking.
- Ask open questions, listen actively
If you are not good at starting a conversation, consider conducting an informal interview with the contact instead. Ask open questions like “How do you like the party?”, “Where are you from?” and so on. This way, you get to know the contact and in the process, end up growing your network with each contact you interview.
- Remember to Wrap Up
While initiating a conversation is important, it is equally important to wrap it up in a proper manner. Make it a point to end a conversation by thanking the person on the other end for spending time with you. Comment on how glad you are about meeting them, and ask for a business card while giving yours.
If the situation arises, seek a further interaction by asking them out for lunch or tea while not directly inviting them specifically.These actions will ensure that you remain in the mind of your contact even after the event has ended.
Reluctant networkers may find it hard to make connections that pay off. However, with a few simple and easy to follow tips like these, they can brush off their reluctance and create bigger, better networks that will with time, help their business prosper.