These days the word networking has any number of meanings and context.
There’s social networking, the kind of networking you do wherever two or more of you are gathers and of course that pesky wiring together of far flung computer nodes that might come up in a random search on the term networking.
I’m at SXSWi this week in Austin and hidden in all those tweets and posts from giddy geeks gone gonzo is the fact that this event is one of the premiere networking events for people in the online and interactive world.
But, networking in your world, no matter where that takes place, is still one of the most important elements of small business relationship building. Like many elements of marketing, however, it’s even more effective when you learn how to blend good old “hi, tell me about your business” with “Let’s connect online.”
- Networking takes commitment because:
- You’ve got to actually get out and go where people are
- You’ve got to take some time to learn about who might be at the event
- You’ve got to make an effort to get uncomfortable
- You’ve got to actually care about what the new person you just met is saying
- You’ve got to hold off launching into a sales pitch
- You’ve got to commit to meeting everyone in the same way
- You’ve got to accept that people need to meet you
- You’ve got to be willing to approach anyone
- Networking takes clarity because:
- You’ve got to know exactly how you add value
- You’ve got to know exactly whom you can help
- You’ve got to keep your business card from becoming a reflex
- You’ve got to have an online connection plan
- You’ve got to have a follow-up plan
- You’ve got to know who else needs to meet who you meet
Today, pick an event and make a plan to make it amazing. Stuff this list in your pocket and then move fearlessly around the room making meaningful connection with every single person you don’t already know.