After Hours Networking
Posted on 02/27/2012
When you’re on the job, you do everything you can to reach out and drum up new business. Maybe you’re managing multiple social media pages to reach consumers. You’ve sent direct mail to new markets where you can find potential customers that would benefit from your products or services. But just because you’re doing all you can on the clock doesn’t necessarily mean you should rule out after hours networking. Think of the advantages of getting out there to meet new people while your competitors are confined to their businesses. Here are some easy networking strategies to consider next time you’re off the clock.
Don’t Be Bashful
Let’s face it. Being shy is not an option when it comes to networking. So you’ve got to put yourself out there and think of every interaction as a networking opportunity. And if you’re on the shy side, you can overcome that by being prepared. Unless you engage, you never know if that stranger beside you on a plane or the table next to you at a restaurant could be a customer. So don’t just think of traditional wine and cheese networking events as the only place to find new business. Volunteer opportunities, for instance, are a great way to get connected to others with similar interests. Also, remember to always have business cards handy for any unexpected opportunities you meet.
Perfecting Your Pitch
Studies show that the younger generation, an up-and-coming portion of the consuming population, have short attention spans because they were raised in barrage of information from the readily available content the Internet puts at their fingertips. They may not be the only ones. As technology continues to expand, consumers have more options to become distracted and don’t have time to listen for elongated periods of time. That’s why you should never rule out your best elevator pitch.
Make the pitch short, simple and relevant to the person you’re engaging. People want to know what you have to offer without sorting through information to get to your main point. Give it to them up front instead of dancing around what they’re really looking for. Remember that although you’re trying to be concise, you also need to find a way to stand out from everybody else.
How to Keep Them Hooked
The best way to keep people engaged is to find commonalities. If you talk about a shared hobby or passion before you talk business, your new connection is sure to remember you and possibly follow up to work with you. When you’re out there networking, never attempt to force a business relationship. But that doesn’t mean you should stop talking with them just because you don’t see potential. The personal connection may eventually result in a referral or at least a substitute fourth for your golf league.