Did you know that networking is the fastest, most economical way to establish a good reputation and connect with others? Did you also know that the fastest way to establish a bad reputation is also through networking?
Good word-of-mouth marketing spreads fast, and bad word-of-mouth spreads even faster. Don’t let this happen to you. When you network by focusing on others first, you enhance your personal brand and reputation as you earn valuable new connections.
The first step in truly effective networking is to “show up.” That means simply that your continued physical presence at networking events is important if you are going to build name recognition and reputation in your community. Those of us who are involved in networking as a serious marketing strategy tend to see many of the same people at event after event.
It is important to understand that although we may make personal jokes about seeing some of the same people everywhere we go, the reality is – that is a critical strategy.
So, why is “showing up” so very important?
The best way to describe the importance is with an illustration. Almost everyone has done an internet search on a person, a business or product. In fact, no matter what search engine we might use, it has become common to refer to them all as a “google search.” We know to rise to the top in an internet search the businesses listed have to follow certain rules and perform certain steps. The goal is to be positioned at or near the top. Everyone knows why.
Well, that applies to you and your business name recognition as well. If I have a personal or business need, I prefer to have it resolved by someone I know and trust. My second choice would be someone recommended by a person I know and trust. I am asked often each month, “Who do you know that… ?” As I search for a solution to either my need or to answer that question for another, I do a “BRAIN google search” to see who I know to recommend.
Who pops up at the top? It’s very simple. The ones that come to the top of my brain search are those I see over and over and have had an opportunity to get to know better. The only way that happens for you is if you SHOW UP on a consistent basis. Establishing name recognition and building a trustworthy reputation should be one of your major goals.
Networking is simply the act of showing up then … starting conversations with other people. The easiest way to start a conversation is by asking questions that indicate you are interested in learning more. There is nothing more insincere than a person who asks a question and fails to listen to the response. Be focused and stay present. This kind of attention is rare. When you show it, others will appreciate your attentiveness and remember you for it.
Many people enter a room of strangers and often feel apprehension and anxious. That is probably because you are putting all the attention on what you will “get” from this opportunity. So relieve your tension, take the emphasis off yourself and put it on the other people in the room.
One fabulous question to ask that will make you a star is simply, “What do I need to know about you so I can recommend you to my friends and colleagues?” This is a sure-fire way to get others talking about themselves and that makes them feel great. They connect with you because of that question. Sooner or later, most will realize they need to stop talking and ask you the very same question.
Now, contrast this with the person who is only interested in what s/he will “get” from this. For them, it’s all about “me.” They start by telling you how important they are and how superior their products are. They proceed to tell you more than you ever wanted to know about their product even though they haven’t taken one moment to find out what your needs are. When a conversation is monopolized like this, there is little room left for real, engaging dialogue. They end the conversation by pushing a business card (or 3) into your hand and telling you to expect a phone call soon.
We’ve all suffered through incredible bores that have no idea what real networking is all about. Displaying genuine interest and curiosity about others will pave your networking path with many wonderful conversations. You will learn more, build longer-lasting relationships, and ultimately earn more. You will soon become a trusted colleague and resource and that will ultimately contribute favorably to your personal brand and reputation.
For sure, you will be at the top of my “brain google search”!
To see effective networking in action and to learn new, powerful business growth strategies every month, join us at the Holiday Inn, Tunnel Rd., 3rd Thursday monthly. You can find the topic and register at www.wncwoman.com
For more information, contact Saralyn at Saralyn@SaralynCollins.com or 828-649-8011