HAVE ANY QUESTIONS? REQUIRE REFERENCE MATERIALS OR SERVICES IN FRENCH? CONTACT US

Mon to Fri: 8:00 am - 4:30 pm
Sat-Sun Closed
1 (888) 919-3800

Phone

Entrepreneur Assessment Quiz

Blog

Getting Back to Networking

  • April 12, 2022
  • Written by Community Futures Meridian

Getting Back to Networking: 

As COVID restrictions ease across the country, networking events will return with a vengeance over the coming months. There is a pent-up desire for people to meet face-to-face and talk business again through a chamber of commerce event, a BNI group, or any other business group. Networking is a much missed and essential part of their sales and marketing strategy for many businesses. And, for owners, it heralds a return to being an integral part of the local business community.

The transition from Zoom networking to in-person will be easy and welcome to most people; for others, it may be a little uncomfortable, especially with the ghost of COVID looming over the proceedings. We are not all extroverts who love to flit from one person to another handing out our business cards as if they were party favours. Some of us find it awkward to walk up to a stranger and introduce ourselves, even more so to promote our product or service. The thing to remember is that you are not alone. Other than a small cadre of individuals who love to meet and greet anyone, anytime, with not an ounce of shyness, the majority of people have at least a smidgen of reticence.

Given that networking for most business owners is a worthwhile activity, how do you go about getting out and about post-COVID and not dread the very thought of entering the event? The first thing you can do is not believe the stories about networking you are telling yourself in your head. If you already think that networking is sleazy, then that’s what it will be. The truth is, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Here are three ways you can reframe the whole networking challenge.

Take the pressure off. If you attend a networking event with the objective of coming away with an order, or at least a solid lead, then you are already putting yourself in a sales frame of mind. If you already think those people with a fistful of cards at these events are slimy, then you will already be feeling uncomfortable. What if you went with the idea of being a resource to everyone you meet? Instead of trying to get your message across, focus on listening and finding a way to help the person achieve their objectives. That’s not saying you will become their customer, but you may have a lead for them or a piece of news or information about their market or industry. It’s surprising how this approach can lead people to actively want to help you with your objectives.

Take the initiative. One of the hardest things can be stepping up to talk to someone. People are often in groups and deep in conversation, and you don’t want to interrupt, but remember it is a networking event, not a private conversation or meeting. Simply join the group, wait for a break in the discussion, or wait for someone to say hi. Of course, you could always search the room and look for someone standing alone and introduce yourself. It’s guaranteed they will appreciate you talking to them. Another strategy is to speak to the organizer and ask them to introduce you to someone you’d specifically like to meet.

Don’t sell – ask for advice or help. Too many networkers go into sales mode as soon as they walk through the door. Forget sales entirely! The orders will come organically if you simply let them. Remember, at a networking event, you are surrounded by people with varying levels and types of expertise. If you ask people to share that expertise, you allow them to help you, and they will feel good about sharing the knowledge. Who doesn’t like being asked for advice? It makes one feel good. This approach allows you to build solid relationships, and it’s those relationships that will bring sales down the line.

Networking shouldn’t be uncomfortable, and it won’t be if you think about it in a new, less threatening way.

More in this category: « Who's Angry?

Stay Informed

Join the Community Futures Meridian email newsletters and stay up to date with business advice, government grants, Community Futures services and upcoming events and workshops

 
Entrepreneur Assessment Quiz!