It’s that time of year again when we make our “New Year Resolutions” and the world seems to be exercising more! I’ve put together a series of exercises you can consider to be networking aerobics. Diligent practice of these exercises will pay off in a healthy networking ability and improved contacts that will lead to contracts. Here are some exercises to help you to shape up your business and maintain networking momentum.
Rise from your chair and get to a networking event. It might be tempting to indulge in “Cave Man” behaviors and never leave the office. This is not the best way to expand your business, much less develop a healthy word-of-mouth base.
Extend your right hand from the shoulder to reach for the hand of any new contacts you meet. Shaking hands is an important part of making a new contact. Not extending the hand of friendship can be perceived negatively. It sets you apart as being aloof and cold. Just be courteous and warm, and I’m sure however you shake hands you’ll make a good impression.
Immediately after the arm extension, introduce yourself to the person you just met. Let the new contacts know who you are and what you do. Make sure to be specific and provide a benefit statement about your services. Don’t forget that a good networker has two ears and one mouth and should use both of them proportionately-so give the jaw a little break.
As you see groups of two or three people talking together, go join them and introduce yourself. However, notice if they are “open” twos and threes or “closed” twos and threes. The open twos and threes will have a gap between the individuals, almost inviting another person to join with them. The closed twos and threes will be completely self-absorbed and wouldn’t be the first place to start practicing the splits. Ask the person hosting the event, or perhaps the individual who invited you to attend, to come around with you and introduce you to clusters of people.
Drop and carry
Ask for your new contacts’ business cards. Drop them into your left pocket and carry them back to your office. I usually carry my own business cards in my right pocket and use the left pocket to carry the new contacts’ cards. This habit can spare you the embarrassment of reaching into your pocket for your card and coming up with someone else’s card. Prior to dropping the contacts’ cards in your pockets, write a note on the back of their cards that will help jog your memory about them.
After your networking event, follow up with a phone call to the people you met. You might wish to follow up via e-mail or by sending note cards-just do something to put you back in the new contacts’ minds.
After attending a networking event, you need to do a cool-down exercise as well. We recommend recording the event’s contacts in a journal. There are also computer programs which will allow you to record the results of the networking event. Referring back to the documentation from the exercises you did at the event will help you cultivate the contacts into a bumper crop of referral business.
As you attend various networking events to promote your businesses, keep these exercises in mind and remember: no pain, no gain! You’ve got to put yourself out there in order to develop a word-of-mouth-based business.