networking preparation Archives - Dr. Ivan Misner®

What to Do Before You Start Networking

I met a businesswoman some time ago who approached me and asked if she could have a few minutes of my time to pick my brain because she was really having a hard time building her network.  I think the information I shared with her will likely be useful to many BusinessNetworking.com blog readers as well so today I’d like to share this video with you where I talk about what to do before you start networking.

Whether you think you’ve got your networking tactics pretty well nailed down or not, I’m willing to bet you’ll learn a thing or two from this video so take a few minutes to watch it and then ask yourself these questions:

1. Why are you in business?

– What do you love to do?
– How does your business serve others?

2. What do you sell?

– What are the benefits of your products/services?

3. Who are your customers?

– What niche do you prefer to work with?

4. What are your core competencies?

– What do you do best?

5. How well do you compete?

– How do you stand out from your competition?

Also, here’s the link to the video I made last year with Eddie Esposito of the Referral Institute: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgnZuAjFGO8 and, as I mention in this video, I would love to hear your additional ideas and creative tactics for teaching people how to refer you so please share your thoughts in the comment forum below.  And, by the way, this is one of the special videos where Bob is playing his famous hide-and-seek game so for the first ten people who add to their comment where Bob makes his cameo appearance (and get the answer right) during the video, I’ll send them a surprise gift which will help them boost their networking knowledge!  (Note: To ensure you receive your gift, please e-mail your name and complete mailing address to Lransom@bni.com with the subject line “Bob.”)  I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

Get Your Act Together

Let’s face it: As a businessperson, you’ve got a lot going on. There are people to see, places to go and a whole lot of stuff to do. Can you do all this, and look and act presentable at all times, too?

Quite frankly, getting and keeping your act together can be a little overwhelming for even the sanest of people, so here are some tips:

1. Look the part before going to a networking event.  You’d be surprised how many people fall short in the fundamental area of appearance. If it’s a chamber of commerce networking breakfast, don’t dress casually–wear a good suit or outfit. You need to be well-rested and clearheaded when attending a morning networking session; make a conscious effort to get plenty of sleep the night before. If you’re not a morning person, hit the sack earlier than usual, so you don’t look like the walking dead. Regardless of how many cups of coffee you’ve had, people can tell if you’re not all there.

2. Make sure your body language sends the right message. When it comes to forming networking relationships, most of the important information–trustworthiness, friendliness, sincerity, openness–is communicated through nonverbal cues such as posture, facial expression and hand gestures. When engaging in conversation, look the other person directly in the eye and stay focused on what he’s saying. Lean a bit into the conversation rather than away from it; don’t stand rigid, with your arms crossed.

3. Be prepared. Make sure you know which pocket your business cards are in, and have plenty on hand. Nothing screams, “One of these days I’ve got to get organized!” louder than handing a potential referral partner someone else’s card.

4. Remember to smile. Studies have shown that if you smile when you talk, you seem more open and forthright. Obviously you don’t want to go overboard with this, and start grinning and shaking hands like a hyperactive clown; just show that you’re having a good time, and that will send the right message.

Perception is reality when it comes to meeting people for the first time. If people perceive you as not being right for them, they simply won’t be inclined to refer business to you, regardless of the work you can actually do. However, by keeping the above tips in mind, you’ll go a long way toward creating the right impression in the blink of an eye.

What Are the First Words Out of Your Mouth?

When someone asks you what you do, what are the first words out of your mouth?  If the words aren’t ready to roll off your tongue, then read on . . .

When someone asks you what you do, make sure you’re ready with a response that is succinct but memorable. The attention span of the average adult is only 20 seconds; a long, drawn-out answer to the question isn’t going to work.

Focus on creating a unique selling proposition (USP)–a mini commercial that you can readily use while networking. I think of this as a personal answer to the age-old “Whattaya do?” question, which we’ve all been asked about a million and a half times.

Here’s an example. When someone asks what you do, don’t reply with a bland, general statement such as “I’m a consultant.” Half the world could say that, and it doesn’t tell anybody anything. Instead, you could say, “I work with small to medium-size businesses to help them attract more clients than they could possibly handle.”  This is short, powerful and informative.

A USP is obviously something you’ll have to tailor to your specific business, but can you see how it packs more punch than just telling people you’re a consultant? Whichever 12 or 20 words you choose, make sure your answer is quick and informative without sounding rehearsed or contrived.

So, make it your goal this week to come with a USP. Not only will this make you much more effective at networking events and functions, being prepared in this way will also make you more comfortable with introducing yourself to new people because you’ll have the confidence of knowing exactly what to say.

Once you’ve used your new USP a handful of times, come back and leave a comment letting me know what kind of response you got from people and how it worked out for you overall. As always, I’d love to hear from you!

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