Networking is a great tool for your business for a number of reasons. Networking can also make some people feel reeaally uncomfortable. In this blog, we let you know some of the benefits of networking, give you some helpful tips if you are new to networking (or attending a new network) and some conversation starters to help ease the nerves of attending those first few meetings. There are soooo many things you can do to help ease those first meeting nerves. Here are just a few to get you started. But first….. why would you want to Network?
KLT: Networking is a fantastic way to gain that Know, Like Trust thing we are always talking about. When you Know, Like and Trust someone you are more likely add them to your “approved referrals list” and vice versa.
ITC: Letting people know who your Ideal Target Market is. The best referrals come from referring the company who is great at “creating websites” AND knowing the ITC piece fits as well. (Being known for giving good referrals is huge in business.)
Education: Business owners are constantly evolving and learning. What better way to learn than through a group of like-minded business owners.
Referrals: Ultimately referrals are going to grow your business quicker than anything else! Yeah really.
So now we know we want to Network. (Even though the mere thought of it makes you gassy! You know it’s true.) What can you do to make those first few meetings a success?
Before the meeting
- Register your attendance to the event. Most networks will strive to make new attendees feel welcome and safe. Help the host by letting them know ahead of time that you will be attending.
- Reach out to the host before the meeting. By having the first touch point via email or social media takes some of the sting out of that first connection for you. You’ve already started to form a relationship.
- Ask if there is a section for introductions at the meeting. Most networking events do. You want to know this ahead of time rather than be blindsided by it when you turn up. Practice what you want to say. At CNBN our newsletters come with a handy “fill in the blanks” template. This was designed primarily with our new guests in mind! We’ve got your back.
- See if you can you get a copy of the guest list. There may be mutual contacts and even someone you could go with.
During the meeting
- Connect with the host. A good host will make sure new guests are not left alone like a wallflower at the high school dance. Remember those days? They are in the past. You are a much more capable human being these days. You’ve got this.
- Have a toolbox of questions you can ask attendees. Conversation starters are a great way to connect with people …. It also means that the focus is on them rather than you. At least for now. Listening is always more important in life anyway.
- Your 30-second intro. You knew it was coming but your heart still feels like it is beating out of your chest. No, no-one else can hear it. Trust me. If standing up makes you feel light-headed there is nothing wrong with holding the back of the chair…. Or even remain seated. A number of our members will say “I’m going to sit through this one” and that’s fine. We understand that not being an award-winning public speaker does nothing to diminish your landscaping capabilities. We’re nice like that.
Conversation starters – open-ended questions
- “Why did you join this network”? Before you start pitching your business, you want to know if the network you are at is a good fit for you. If the network is a good fit there is a good chance that the people in the room will be a good fit for your business as well.
- “Why did you get into business?” This is a great question for figuring out that Know, Like, Trust principle.
- “I’m new to this network, who are the important people to know”? Okay so everyone is important. What you’re really asking is:
- who is the owner
- who are the leaders
- who are the long term members
- who are the professional networkers – i.e. super referrers!
Of course, this tactic allows you to ask 1 question rather than 4 and should get you an introduction to these important players!
If all else fails……..
Find someone who looks as equally lost as you and simply say “I hate networking events”. You’ve immediately found a friend for life and introverts around the world will refer to you as their spirit animal!
Hopefully, you won’t need this one, especially at a CNBN event.
Do you know of any other great conversation starters? List them in the comments to help a fellow networker out! And should you decide to join us at a meeting where our CEO Katie McKay is attending, ask her about her first networking event… It’s kind of an entertaining story.
Donna is the CFO of Connect Now Business Network, a fourth-generation entrepreneur and financial consultant. She has worked with money or cash management for most of her career. What started out collecting fines for the legal system or collecting debts for private enterprise progressed into bookkeeping with an accounting firm. This gave her a solid understanding of what you need to run your business and what you accountant needs to prepare your year-end financials and tax returns. After many years in this field and 2 children later it was time to set up her consulting company Beyond Balanced Books. Donna has a passion for helping business owners understand their financials and how best to utilize their money to grow their business in the quickest way possible. Her unique approach focuses on not only the business cash flow but how personal cash flow affects the business growth as well. She has a way of explaining numbers that makes them less scary. Donna delivers her advice with humourous flare backed up with solid accounting practices.