Networking is such a crucial element in building your business and there are some traps you can easily fall into that can make it less than effective for you and your business. We have put together 10 simple tips that can help you make the most out of your networking opportunities, and create optimal relationships that are win-win for all!

It’s your party! We once worked with an improv coach who encourages anyone who walks into a room of people you don’t know to “act as if” it is YOUR party. Therefore, it is your job to make sure “your guests” feel welcome, appreciated and heard. When you walk into the room with the confidence that you would have if you were walking into your own living room, you completely change the dynamic and empower yourself as well as the people you are engaging with. Win – Win!
Collect those cards. When we are just starting out, we can often get more caught up in making sure that everyone have received OUR business cards. Hey, you spent a lot of time, effort and money on them, right? But it is actually more important for you to make sure you get other people’s cards and information so you can be proactive and follow-up with them after the event, instead of waiting for them to reach out to you.
Step out of your comfort zone. It is easy to be intimidated in a larger group, particularly if you don’t know very many people. It is easy to get caught up talking to people who you know or someone who you have an immediate connection with and hang out with them for most of the time. Although it is important to create meaningful connections with people, it is also important to remember the point of taking your own time out to meet more people. Keep this in mind if you find yourself getting too wrapped up in a conversation — especially if it is someone you see on a somewhat regular basis.
Follow up. One of the biggest missed opportunities that happens after a networking event is not following up with people whom you have met, and possibly even committed to sending information, referrals, etc. This follow-up can be as simple as a “nice to meet you” email or if you had a really great connection, a phone call. Don’t let these opportunities for further connection fall through your fingertips. Make following up a priority for you … and for your business.
“Out of the box” follow-up. One of our mentors suggested to us that a great way to reach out to others is to do the opposite of what others are doing. As we suggested above, sending an email as a follow-up is great, but even better is to send a nice “hard copy” card with your business card included. Remember those Hallmark commercials? Who doesn’t love getting a card?!
Don’t introduce yourself as a coach, your modality or your company name. Introduce yourself with something intriguing that immediately gives someone a clear idea of how you help people. If you start with your modality or run of the mill “title”, people often either don’t know exactly what that is or they have a pre-conceived idea of who you are and what you do. Be proactive and share with them how you help people and more importantly how you can help them or someone they know. The key here … get a conversation going.
Get their name. Has this ever happened to you — you ask someone’s name and then two seconds later, you have forgotten it?! There are all kinds of memory techniques — word association, etc. — but a wonderful and simple way to begin cementing a new contact’s name into your brain is to repeat it after they introduce themselves. “Great to meet you, Katherine.”
Make them the subject of your interest. One of the biggest mistakes people make in networking is to forget you are trying to build a relationship. It is easy to get caught up in trying to be sure that everyone knows who YOU are and what YOU do. When you shift into taking genuine interest in what others need and how you can help them, that is where the relationships truly begin. There is normally plenty of room for you to share about your services and gifts … especially if it’s the right contact for you.
Find out how YOU can help THEM. As we mentioned in the above tip, networking is a two-way street and you want to make sure that you are clear about how you can help others. Not just as a client but also in referring other people to THEIR business. When you take the time to find out about each contact’s business and the type of clients they are looking for, you are creating a wonderful cornerstone for your continued relationship … and that can be priceless for BOTH of you down the road.
Stay positive! Be careful not to get sucked into negative conversations, even if you are having a tough day, week, month or year. There is no bigger turn off than someone who is complaining or seeing the glass half empty (or completely empty for that matter!). Staying positive and upbeat throughout your conversations says to people that you are confident in yourself and an authority in your business. Remember… Authority inspires!

Stay Open! – Remember, when you are out and about networking, you are not only talking to potential clients but you are also talking with potential referrals and joint venture opportunities. Keep your mind open and your options open. Really LISTEN to what each person is saying to you so you can truly get a good sense of the potential for both of you.

Smile — Everyone loves a genuine smile, it just makes everyone feel good. And when people feel good they open up more and you can build a stronger relationship faster.

Be Grateful — Always remember how lucky you are … the work you do changes people’s lives and you GET to go out and meet new people to help and support. And by the way — gratitude in your heart, like a smile on your face, can light up a room and make you a magnet for people who would like to experience what you are experiencing.

So your assignment this week is really simple … go to a networking event this week and implement as many of these tips as you can.

Remember, networking is a simple, easy and low cost way to build your business, and it can be fun — but only if you allow it to be.

Author's Bio: 

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Putting into action the very system and principles they teach, Paige Stapleton and Brian Stark left careers that were leaving them feeling small and unfulfilled and followed their bliss! Now, as founders of Authentic Marketing Made Easy™, and The Authentic Marketing System™, they have created a life they love helping healers, practitioners, coaches and other small business owners learn the simple and holistic way to market and grow their service-based businesses, so they can attract more clients and make more money, while staying in integrity with their passion and purpose.