As business owners, we have a few options on how to obtain new business. We can pay for advertising, we can ask for referrals from our current clients, we can even pay for leads or we can network and hope to build relationships with potential clients. There is no one answer fits all for your business. Often it becomes a try this, try that and see what works for you. If money is plentiful than long term advertising may be your answer. Just remember consistency is best, you need to prepare for a year minimum of ads to ensure your message is received.
If you’re budget is tight, the other option is to go out and build relationships. Now I know it can be very scary walking into a room full of strangers. There are many questions going through your head….
Who do you talk to first? What will you say to start the conversation? Should you give your card to the person even if they don’t ask? Do you have enough business cards to go around? All these questions and many more may be running through your head, making you more nervous than you need to be.
Here are a few tips that may help you feel more are ease and become a master networker.
- Prepare. Make sure you have plenty of business cards readily available. Ladies, don’t put them in the bottom of your purse, this may make it difficult to grab them when your hands are full. For women and men, I suggest putting a stack in your left pocket, and use the right pocket for any cards you receive.
- Make a mental list of people you would like to meet. If someone asks you who would you like to meet, you will be ready with an answer. You may want to do a little research about who is sponsoring the event, and who will be there? Are there a few people on the list you would love to get in front of?
- 3 solid leads are all you need. All too often we feel that we need to speak with every person in the room, we end up running around talking to everyone for about 60 seconds, then we are off to the next person. You really cannot make a good connection in 60 seconds. Take your time, and listen to what the other person is offering. Then let them know what you do. If they are a good fit, ask to set up a follow up meeting, or make a note on their card to follow up with them.
- Wrap it up. When you are getting ready to end the conversation, hand them two business cards and say, “Here is one card for you and one for your friend who may in the future need my _________”. You can fill in what you do. By saying this, you are prompting people to think about who may need your services. We all love referrals.
- When you are done with your conversation, ask them if they know anyone in the room, and could they introduce you. Remember to offer this up as well. Be a connector, what could be better than people coming to you all the time to make the connection for them. If they are coming to you for a referral they are remembering you. In time, they will come to you for your services, they will be grateful to you for all the help you offered them in the past.
- Always have FUN. When you are relaxed and smiling people will be drawn to you.
Practice makes perfect. It is only natural to be nervous, the more you go out there and talk to people the easier it will get.