Probably one of the best and most useful pieces of advice that I got when I was in college was that in the “real world”–which I thought then was the place where adults are supposed to be responsible and earn a decent living–is not always about what you can do and how good you are; more often than not, it’s about who you know.
However, I didn’t realize its value until I began looking for a job post-graduation. I was quite confident with applying and my resumé was fairly impressive because I detailed my skills, achievements, and work experience which were mainly about small jobs and volunteering. But all of it wasn’t enough. I watched my former classmates in sheer disbelief as they get hired one after another, only to find out that they either know someone that works in that company or they have a friend who does.
In my defense, it didn’t take too long before I got a job myself, but I have to admit that the way there was an arduous trip. Although I had a string of odd jobs and did volunteer work, searching for a place in the corporate world was tougher than I imagined. My job search made me realize how important it is to have a vast network, so I worked my way to meeting new people not just in the office. I continued to volunteer whenever I could and went out of my way to get to know interesting people.
Eventually, I was able to expand my network of professionals and I now have connections with plenty of industries. By the time I was ready to leave the corporate world and start my own business, I had the privilege of seeking advice from my entrepreneur friends. With all the volunteering I’ve been doing, I realized that I don’t want to be bound by a nine-to-five job. That’s when I decided to become an entrepreneur; not only do I get to manage my time sans a strict schedule, I can also participate in volunteer events whenever I want to. My networking business gave me the luxury of time my day jobs didn’t afford me and it allowed me to interact with different kinds of people, a skill I needed to gain more connections. The success behind my networking enterprise is something I owe a lot to communication and selling ideas, aside from high quality products.
So today, I’m going to share with you what I think are the most effective ways to spur the growth of your own networking business so that you too may enjoy the fruits of your labor the soonest possible time.
1. Participate in Relevant Events
One of the best places to find the people whom you share interests with is events relevant to networking. Conferences, workshops, trade shows-all these are ideal venues for making new acquaintances and meeting people whom you can ask for advice or deal business with in the future.
You will also encounter budding entrepreneurs who are looking for distributors to sign up with and start a small business of their own. Just remember to carry your business cards when you attend these kinds of events so it will be easier for the people you meet to get in touch with you in the future.
2. Take it to the Internet
Aside from participating in networking affairs, you can also use the Internet as a vehicle to establish your business. Create accounts in social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, then join pertinent discussions and begin building relationships with industry influencers and other networkers. You can also put up a blog where you can sell products and publish reviews. Your blog can also consist of photos of the events you attend and articles about your takeaways.
3. Really Get to Know People
When it comes to networking, memorizing names doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be able to grow your army. What keeps people engaged though is when they see that you’re sincerely interested in them and what they can do. So after making formal introductions with prospective distributors or consultants, get to know them better by asking about things that are pertinent to the business. You can also ask them personal questions that you think may shed some light on how they manage situations such as in their families. Just remember to ask with tact and sensitivity to avoid them from being turned off.
4. Hard Selling Isn’t Always the Right Way
There are times when, despite the evident and very much available opportunity to promote a product, hard selling still isn’t an easy choice simply because there are people who are repulsed at the idea. What could work for them, however, is knowledge about the product, such as the science behind it and how it can help them. You need to make them feel that you’re not networking to simply make a sale. Instead, you need to communicate with them that by listening to you, they have the opportunity to earn more money and improve their lives.
5. Follow Up
Many starting distributors tend to be discouraged when prospects do not reply the moment they touch base. They think that it’s easier to move on and find new prospects than to risk badgering the people they already tried talking to. Instead of doing this, try following up the people you talk to after say a few days since you first talked to them. You can send them personalized emails and check if they can spare you the time to tell them about networking and your business itself. However, keep in mind that this doesn’t always work for everyone so always keep a healthy list of prospects handy.
Networking is one business that doesn’t offer a one-size-fits-all plan. You need to put in long hours and work really hard by meeting people and mastering your products to ensure that you have your pitch intact once you’re out looking for partners. By following these tips, you can have a fairly efficient groundwork for your business. One of the good things is that this information is so basic you can always go back to it when something goes against what you originally planned.