In the last discourse, it was stressed that another avenue where businessmen can build a network of people is by attending conferences, seminars, trade shows, trade fairs, exhibitions and workshops that are relevant to their type of business or target market.
Some of us attend functions without gaining anything. Some people even have the habit of keeping to themselves at functions. This is not good practice for entrepreneurs, as an entrepreneur must develop a passion to interact socially at functions and events. When you have the enthusiasm to meet people, it attracts people to you like a magnet and, please, when you are attending any function, don’t underrate anybody.
Let me again share a couple of secrets with you that will help you to take full advantage of social interaction in any event. Meeting people at functions is not as intimidating as we think. Remember that every person at any function is equally intimidated by a large crowd present. If you take the initiative of putting a genuine smile on your face and stretch out your hand out to say, “Hi” with a great handshake to people around you, you will be surprised to have same gesture from them. By then, you can open a conversation. If your conversation goes a little deeper and you think the person is the type you like to do business with in future, you can then exchange your call cards and other valuable information. In your discussion, don’t forget to ask about your potential prospect’s business. Take interest in his success and offer quality advice. Once you have demonstrated that you have interest in his/her success, he/she will in most cases become interested in you.
I like to sound a note of warning here. Please don’t because someone shows interest in a conversation, you intrude into his/her privacy. You must conduct yourself like a businessman because the first impression matters a lot. Don’t be too cheap at the first time by asking for a favour. Don’t also attempt to trade on a new relationship. If you do this, you will look too needy and this may put off the person. I also like to advise that any time you attend any business function, you must focus on making quality contacts and not quantity friends. Though everyone counts in networking, consider those that can be of more benefit to your business. Networking can be very expensive sometimes, but if done effectively, it can prove to be a valuable investment.
I would like to give you some useful tips that have worked for so many people in the past and which I consider to be the ABC of Networking. The tips will enable you to make a meaningful use of every contact and connection you are able to build from any social and business functions you attend. Before you attend any function at all, you must plan for the programme. Think of the precise purpose of attending the function and of the calibre of people you wish to meet. Once you can determine those you want to meet, this will help you keep focused and you can avoid unnecessary distractions at the meeting. While you were expecting to meet high net-worth people, always have it in mind that a lot of people would be happy to meet you too, therefore you must present yourself very receptive. The first thing that matters when meeting people for the first time is your appearance. You must dress in a business code unless otherwise required. When you dress suitably and neat, you are likely to feel comfortable and confident to meet people. Your address does not need to be too expensive, but you must be neat and obey all business dress code.
You must be ethical and disciplined in your conversation. Don’t be rude and pushy in your conversation. Don’t close deals quickly in your conversation. Don’t forget that not all functions and events are vehicles to heat on people to grant favours or buy your products or services. Remember those networking events are about developing relationships, and meeting people at the first time is, therefore, a beginning of that process and not the end of it. Always go to such meetings with your call cards. After your conversation, carefully exchange cards and other necessary information, particularly a functional telephone line and an email address. A few days after the meeting, ensure you follow up with your contact, either by calling on the phone or sending an email or better still, sending a text message to thank the person for making the event great for you. Sometimes people forget things easily. Contact and business relationships are one of those things we cannot afford to forget, therefore proper follow up is necessary. This is the only way you can make your networking efforts fruitful. Many of us enjoy exchanging call cards with contacts at functions with a promise to call but later fail to do so. A successful relationship does not just come, we must anticipate it and grab it when he comes by following up on all promises we made. We must start every relationship by being responsible and reliable by honouring our promises. If you have promised to call or send an email, you must honour your words by doing so.
On a final note, I like to remind you that success is not achieved in isolation. It takes working with two or more people to succeed. Therefore, I encourage you to take the steps of faith, work your ways to success by making networking a core marketing strategy for your business. It is a strong and effective way of building beneficial business contacts and relationships. While at any social and business events, including your church, don’t look down on anybody. Take full advantage of the meeting to build a profitable clientele base. Though it takes a long time to build a relationship, if you do it in an acceptable business manner, it will reward you with more business experience and steady streams of clients.