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A Simple Approach to Networking That Works

One of our friends, Sam Wieder, is an outstanding coach and speaker. He graciously offered to share some of his top networking tips with our readers, so read on!

How often do you leave networking events with little or nothing to show for your efforts?

You work the room. But all you walk away with are a handful of business cards that you’re not quite sure what to do with. You enjoy a lot of friendly conversation. Yet often the people you speak with aren’t the best prospects for your products or services. Even when they are, you may struggle to command their attention or figure out how to further cultivate a relationship with them.

What if it were possible to transform your networking experience from unproductive mingling into a launch pad for business-building relationships? The good news is that you can make this happen more easily than you might think—even if you’re new to networking. All it really takes is a little preparation, the right approach, and a simple shift in the mindset that you bring to the networking game.

Here a simple four-step approach you can use to bring all of these elements together:

1. Define your ideal prospects and referral sources. Be as clear and specific as possible. This will help you focus on connecting with those you most want to meet and minimize the time you spend with others.

2. Create a simple, two-sentence self-introduction. In your opening sentence, identify your ideal customers and the biggest problem your business can help them solve. In your second sentence, convey the biggest benefit or outcome people gain from using your product or service. Use this concise response to answer the question “What do you do?” But focus on finding out what they do.

3. Ask your contacts one or more power networking questions. These are questions that get people to reveal their most exciting goals or most pressing challenges. Listen closely to their answers. Encourage them to elaborate. They’ll feel good that you’re willing to really listen to them, as you learn things you can use to establish a stronger relationship with them.

4. Follow up with your most promising networking contacts by sending them resources to help them reach their goals or overcome their challenges. You might send them contact information for a helpful business contact, supplier, or potential customer. Or maybe you could recommend a helpful book, web site, networking organization or upcoming seminar.

Approach each networking event with the intent of meeting and offering help to your best prospects or referral sources. Few people at networking events bother to follow up at all with people they meet. When you do—and offer help in the process—you’ll stand apart from the rest and take a giant step toward building profitable relationships.

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