Jody Gabourie, the recently retired Canadian “Marketing Plan Queen”, knew what she was doing when she simplified marketing for small business owners. There are three practices, she advised, that we should consider deploying when we go out and look for new clients or customers. They are: networking, speaking and writing.
Think about it. Simple, isn’t it?
Let’s talk about networking today (speaking and writing will follow in future posts).
These are the Four Laws of Networking:
1. You’ve got to show up. No matter how wonderful the event is and what benefits await you there, if you stay home, you’ll never know.
2. You’ve got to participate. Showing up and sitting at a table with your best friend, or standing aloofly on the sidelines, waiting for someone to notice you and come and speak with you, is not a great deal more effective than not showing up at all. Join conversations, introduce yourself, ask questions, begin to explore a rapport.
3. Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up! Not long ago, a colleague told me she simply has no time to follow-up with most of the people she meets and her company (she is a business development VP) will not give her an assistant (how short-sighted is that!). She is too busy attending events, chairing meetings, leading teams, and collecting business cards, which get dumped into a drawer when she gets back to her office, never to be picked up again. Image the business or career potentials that are never realized by not following up with people you meet. A quick e-mail is often all that is needed, perhaps with a suggestion for a cup of coffee or lunch in the future. A handwritten note in the mail is even better. Few others do this; it will help you stand out.
4. You’ve got to give before you can get. A technology salesman who came to one of my networking seminars a few years ago told me afterwards that he had never thought of this. He had, he said, until then, approached every networking event with a stack of business cards in his hands, asking people if they knew of any job openings in his field of expertise. It still took him a while after the seminar, but six months later, after he had learned to listen and offer help rather than asking for it, he landed his dream job.
And, oh, about that practice of handing out business cards to everyone you meet at networking events? Don’t do it. Wait till someone asks for your card and then hand it over.