Painless Networking

Networking gets a bad rap most of the time, doesn’t it?

Lots of business owners associate networking with awkwardness, while online entrepreneurs often believe they can avoid it completely. (Can you relate?)

The truth is, it doesn’t have to be something to fear, honest. You simply need to equip yourself with a few tools before you venture out into the wild.

Here are four steps to networking smart, so you’ll approach it with confidence and purpose, instead of shyness and dread.

1. Get clear on who you want to meet.

This is simple enough. If you don’t know your “who,” then you won’t be very clear on where to network in the first place. You want to go where your ideal clients and/or ideal referral sources will be, preferably in large numbers when possible.

2. Get clear on your 30-second commercial.

This gets almost as bad a rap as networking, right? But you don’t need to feel cheesy, and no, your “commercial” doesn’t have to be a full 30 seconds!

Here’s the simple framework: I help (insert your market) who struggle with (insert their problem) so that (insert your solution).

That’s it.

3. Have a kick-butt business card

It seems obvious, yet you’d be surprised how many times I’ve had a conversation with someone and asked for their card, only to find they don’t have one. Instead, they end up writing their information on a napkin or piece of notepaper that ends up in the trash or lost.

Here’s what you need: your name, the name of your company (via your logo), your phone number, e-mail and website. Space permitting, you can add your physical address, but avoid making your card too cluttered. I like having a picture as well, as it helps people remember you.

Bonus tip: use the valuable real estate on the back of your card to share your website’s free offer.

4. Find out the good networking venues.

How? There are lots of ways: your local Business Journal, via a Google search, through the Chamber of Commerce, or by asking your friendly neighborhood Reference Librarian. Don’t forget to ask others you know who network often. They are often a fabulous resource.

Finally, ask yourself, “Where do my ideal prospects congregate regularly?”

Do they go to personal development workshops? Yoga studios?

What workshops, trade shows or seminars do they go to? Where do they network? What associations do they belong to?

Here’s the deal: if you want more clients, you want to go to as many networking events as possible. People send business to those they know, like, and trust, and that can’t happen in one meeting. Find a few groups or events, and make a commitment to go consistently.

By the way, know that “networking” is often disguised as something a lot more routine and everyday: in line for the new iPad, at the checkout in the grocery store, at the hair salon, at yard sales, and so on.

You just never know where conversations will lead. Plus, if you think of it as serving, it can have less of an intimidating connotation.

I like to think of it as our own version of being earthly angels for others. They have struggles, we have solutions.

Now get out there and spread your wings, ok?

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