If you are an entrepreneur with a new start-up or an established business owner you probably understand the necessity of networking. Like most, you probably operate the networking part of your marketing plan by socializing at events so that people hear your elevator pitch. You look for another opportunity to get another business card into the hands of 50 more seemingly uninterested people. I guess you are already thinking that you are probably doing it wrong.
This is because networking is less about the opportunity to pitch a product and more about learning how to make a relevant contribution to the lives of others. It’s about giving someone else the opportunity to get to know you and hopefully like you well enough to try what you have to offer. But socializing at cocktail parties won’t get you to this point. What will?
First, Understand Your Purpose For Networking
Like any other marketing tactic, the act of networking must serve some higher goal. Why are you networking? Are you looking to promote yourself or are you looking to have a dialogue with other business owners who have a common challenge? Maybe both. Once you understand your purpose then you can develop an idea of what kinds of people you want to surround yourself with.
Next, Get to Know the Right People
When I started networking, my goal was to surround myself with like thinkers and entrepreneurs with established businesses. I could learn from seasoned entrepreneurs and possibly help up and coming entrepreneurs. I was also interested in people who had staff and who had reached certain revenue levels. But, I just wasn’t hitting the mark. I kept finding myself surrounded by people who really didn’t own or run a business. Some were part of network marketing schemes or simply trying to connect to sell something without first establishing a relationship. Don’t make this mistake. Evaluate the groups you plan to spend time with. Figure out whether they will offer you what you need.
Look for ways to make a meaningful contribution
In other words, decide how you can leave the groups you join better off by your attendance or presence. If you add value to the group, chances are you will be on someone’s mind when the need for your product/service comes up. Volunteer for a special project with an organization. Give free advice. Show how meaningful your existence is. Go in with the intent of helping someone else and not simply helping yourself.
(The Encompass Clarity blog provides practical marketing advice for its readers and reports and analyzes consumer trends . Visit http://www.encompassclarity.com for news and information about Encompass Clarity, Inc. or email us firstname.lastname@example.org.)