If you’re reading this, the thought of networking probably bums you out.
Let me just get one thing out of the way first:
Those feelings? They’re completely normal!
If you’re in sales, you probably love talking to new people. But networking isn’t a normal conversation. No one really likes doing the whole song and dance that takes place at networking events.
Introducing yourself, giving your value proposition, handing over business cards … it’s awkward.
Of course, if you’re networking with the right people, the rewards far outweigh the pain. In this blog, I’m going to give you some advice for getting over that initial discomfort and creating professional connections that benefit you in a big way.
Get in the right mind-set
You don’t like networking? Get over it.
That might seem easy for me to say—and much harder to actually do—but it’s true. So much of your success with networking is about mind-set.
If you don’t believe you can succeed, you won’t.
Give yourself a pep talk. Remind yourself of the benefits of getting to know new people. Tell yourself that you are capable and will make those important connections.
Another thing about mind-set is that it has a strong impact on the impression you make. Which brings me to my next point…
Body language is hugely important
When you’re not feeling good about what you’re doing, your body language suffers. And that makes it so much harder to make a positive first impression.
You should be smiling, with your shoulders back, and making eye contact with the people you meet.
Mirror and match the tone, posture, and language of the people you’re talking to. This puts them at ease and builds rapport.
Nail your elevator pitch
You’ll be meeting a lot of people at a networking event. That’s why it’s important to get really good at explaining who you are and what you do.
You need to be able to deliver your value prop in a really intriguing way that also respects people’s time.
Don’t tell people you’re a real estate agent. Instead, talk about what your end goal is—whether that’s helping first-time buyers navigate the process, assisting retirees looking to downsize, or helping people save for the future with investment properties.
Even better, lead with the pain point you’re trying to solve. For example, talk about how so many people are crushed by student loan debt and can’t buy a house. Explain that what you do is help those people consolidate their debt, apply for a mortgage, and find a house.
You’re giving your value proposition in a really powerful way, as opposed to simply telling someone your job title. That’s much more memorable.
If you need a little help crafting your elevator pitch, there’s a great episode of our podcast, Stay Paid, about this. Marketing expert Randy Dickinson offers tips for creating your brand’s story and delivering it in an effective way.
It’s a volume game
Talk to a lot of people. If you only meet one or two people, you might not make any meaningful connections. Try to meet everyone in the room.
Another thing to note is that networking is wherever you find it. You can meet people at your church, Zumba class, or anywhere else you spend a lot of time.
We network with our podcast. We’ve met people by interviewing, and then built lasting relationships and partnerships.
Don’t overlook networking opportunities in your everyday life—and be open to meeting new people. You’ll be glad you did.
Remember to follow up
No matter how good your value proposition is—and no matter how great an impression you make—that’s just one moment. If you’re really going to find success through networking, you need to follow up.
Everyone you’re talking to could be leaving an event with dozens of business cards. They’ll probably have a hard time remembering all the details of your conversation. If you follow up, you’ll stand out head and shoulders above everyone who doesn’t.
Send a thank-you card or Edible Arrangement. Give people an item of value to remember you by (like a copy of your branded magazine). You can always use these items as an excuse to reach out later.
In that follow-up conversation, you’ll be able to sow the seeds of your next interaction. Before you know it, you’ll have built a strong relationship that will benefit you both.