Business people know what networking is, but many do not practice it. Let’s look at a few different types of readily available events and how they might benefit you and your firm.
1. Attending a professional association meeting.
a. This is a great place to benchmark your company while getting to know your peers or competition. How about asking, “Who’s your newest client?” or “What areas are you pulling back in?” or “How did your firm overcome xyz?”
2. Participating in “adjacent” tradeshows.
a. This isn’t the tradeshow next door where everyone’s wearing a Hawaiian shirt. What others types of business might your clients work with? For instance, if you’re a web developer, how about going to a social media event?
You’ll get to see who the “movers” are in the field as well as pick up information that may affect your practice.
b. Getting to know professionals in adjacent fields may bring in referrals. Look for potential partners.
3. Attending (or sponsoring) local events.
a. The idea here isn’t to go late and leave early. These are local business people who care about and are interested in their community. Funny thing, so do you.
Challenge yourself to a game where you must collect a minimum of three cards from new people you meet, and then set up a lunch with at least one of them in the next two weeks.
b. Over time, this starts to make your town or business area very small. You will know and be known by local business people.
What’s stopping you?
Let’s say you’re the shrinking violet type that does well with people once you get to know them. Large gatherings are intimidating. Good news. You don’t have to make a public address in front of everyone.
Try this on: look around the room for a group of three people or a person standing by himself. The person standing alone will welcome you to begin speaking. If the person turns out to be a dud, move on, saying you’re out to meet a number of new people and collect their business cards. All true.
When approaching a group of three, generally, two people are having a conversation and the third one is barely participating. That person is your entrée into the group.
Is this getting easier? Business development. Networking. They do go together.