Networking Effectively!

Some of you very kindly got in touch with me last week after my last blog and asked me what exactly I say regarding the open 7 x W questions, how I deliver them, and my body language, so I thought I would answer you via a full blog post on networking effectively!

Mindset

When you go to a networking event, please leave your agenda behind, and go and make friends by making the effort to get to know people! See if you can help them! Remember, if people don’t know you, they won’t like you, if they don’t like you, they won’t trust you, if they don’t trust you, they won’t buy from you or refer business with you! People love talking about themselves so let them talk! (If you wish, print off the delegates list or ask for it in advance, and pick out up to 3 people you absolutely want to speak to, research them and then find and speak to them!).

Body Language

Body language accounts for over of half of what is perceived about what we are trying to say. When I am at a networking event, I go in looking smart casual (jeans, shirt, shoes), with happy thoughts, smiling, with an open stance, arms relaxed, either clasped in front or behind me, gesticulating when talking. I lean in, shake hands, and make firm but friendly eye-contact when engaging in conversation with people, showing a real interest in what they are saying.

Tone

I am always happy, positive, excited, energetic and genuinely interested in who I am speaking to! When I speak, I never speak in a monotone and make sure that I am enjoying speaking and listening to myself! Your tone is louder than your words and your message, so make it count!

Words

I enjoy making polite conversation, simple small talk, to break the ice and begin getting to know something about the person I am speaking with. I tend to keep most of my questions, open-ended and always deliver them in a relaxed manner, using the Ws when needed. I always introduce myself and then make it about them. My conversations go something like this:

“Hi, nice to meet you, I’m Bilal!”. This invites them to share their name with you. If you want to remember their names (even if they have a name badge on!), you lean forward and say “Nice to meet you, John!”. Then I make small talk to relax things, “So, whereabouts are you from?”, “Cool, are you from there?”, try to relate to them by finding something in common with them, this makes it more relaxed and informal. Then you can ask, “So, what brought you here?”, followed by, “Cool, so what is it that you do?”.

After they have told me what they do, they will be curious about me, so the conversation will switch to me, and it’s my time to shine! However, I prefer to flicker briefly to make them even more curious and ask me more questions about me! So, I share with them very briefly what I do, with my short elevator pitch, and say:

“I have 3 businesses, a consultancy in the pharmaceutical industry, a social media agency, and a lifestyle business. Across all my businesses, we aim to help make the lives of our clients and team easier, and help them save and make money”. If they ask me to elaborate a little more on my businesses, I do, but I never ever go into full brain dump mode, even if it is tempting sometimes! Don’t get me wrong, I do talk and share my opinions, but I make sure the person I am speaking to is doing most of the talking, and afterwards they love having spoken to me! I’m there to make friends, and by pitching everyone I meet, I won’t make any friends! It’s bad for business! At the end of the conversation, if I have enjoyed speaking with them, I will tell them, and say:

“It’s been a pleasure speaking with you John, are you on LinkedIn?”, they usually say yes and we connect using our smartphones. If not, I take their business card and say I will send them an email, and then make sure I do send them an email! I tend not to carry business cards because we have social media! I have a big box of every business card I have ever received which I open rarely, hence why I always tend to contact via LinkedIn or other social media!

For me, networking is second nature, I do it naturally where I am, but it is an art that can be learned! Just take a deep breath, compose yourself, prepare and then DO! Remember, make networking about others, not you!

Let me know how you get on 🙂

Networking Do’s and Dont’s!

Networking comes to me very naturally. Being an only child, I have been putting myself in situations where I had to meet new people from a young age, to develop myself and my skills and meet interesting people. This has helped me make friends with some of the most wonderful people I could have ever imagined meeting!

Networking for your business is vital but people get it so badly wrong its painful to watch and be a part of! When you are out and about at networking events, there are some dos and don’ts, which I feel everybody should learn, because if you don’t, no matter how good you are, or how effective your product or service is, no one will care! Simply put, people don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care! So do what I tell you and stop doing the things I tell you not to do!

Top 10 Tips!

Here are my top 10 tips for networking effectively:

  1. If you can, print off the delegates list beforehand and look through it, highlighting who you would want to meet, find interesting or could have a referral for.
  2. Prepare yourself mentally, know what you can do for the other party, make it about them, get to know them, make them do 75% of the talking! People love talking about themselves so give people the confidence to do that, and their barriers will come down, they will relax and you will see the real person behind the business persona!
  3. Know your story, who you are, what the features, advantages and benefits of your business are, and keep your story as short and succinct as possible, because you want other people to do the talking as stipulated in point 2!
  4. Mind your body language! Body language is everything, and people are naturally attracted to and gravitate towards happy people! And that means do NOT fold your arms! Keep an open stance! And smile! Seriously! This makes such a difference when you are talking to people or looking for people to talk to!
  5. Genuinely show interest in other people, their personality and their business! You will never do business with people you don’t like! And vice versa!
  6. Follow Rudyard Kipling’s advice as follows: I Keep 6 honest serving-men: (They taught me all I knew), Their names are What and Where and When, And How and Why and Who. I would also add Which, so that makes 7! So prepare some key “W” open questions.
  7. Ask for their business card and then connect with them over LinkedIn and/or other social media platforms on the spot. I rarely carry business cards because I have social media apps on my phone to take care of such things!
  8. Look around for who is speaking to the biggest group. That person has influence. That person is a leader. Go and speak with them!
  9. Do NOT shove your business, business card or simply your agenda down other people’s throats! You will NOT make any friends or win any favours!
  10. Be yourself, be honest, have integrity, live and breathe your values, morals and ethics! If people don’t know you, they won’t like you, if they don’t like you, they won’t trust you, if they don’t trust you, they won’t buy from you or recommend others to buy from you!

PLEASE! Do NOT mess this up! It is so easy to get RIGHT but people get it so WRONG! Networking is NOT about you! Make it about others, and your time will come to shine! Trust me!

Let me know how you get on 🙂