I moved to New York City from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 3 years ago. When I moved here, I had a business plan written, a quarter of a website built, and a business license in place. Still, I knew two people; and I was starting a business from scratch. So, what did I do...I started networking. I networked in every arena I could think of. I did business networking, single parent groups, single and dating networking. I figured the more people I met and connected with, the more it would help. It is about relationships; and since NY is a city of 8 million people, I figured I needed to know at least 1,000 within a year.
What transpired is that I have become a bit of a networking aficionado. In fact, the last two clients I was hired by have asked me specifically to help them with their networking endeavors. So, after the last client hired me and asked me to help him network and figure out the best way to increase his clientele through potential groups he should attend, I decided I should write a blog about it.
So, here we go . . . Top 7 Tips that have been successful in my Networking Endeavors in NYC!
I cannot take credit for this one. My good friend and now client, Angela Leavitt from Mojo Marketing (www.gimmemojo.com), gave me this advice immediately after opening my doors. Pick 3-4 networks, stay consistent, and go in deep. Get on their board, volunteer, and make sure you are going to every meeting you can for that group. Too many people spread themselves too thin and really don’t have time to really connect with a group. What results is that you become a card that they throw away. Instead, go to the same group over and over again; and if you can, volunteer. I did this with NAWBO, got on their Volunteer Committee, and have attained two of my most consistent clients from them. I met with of my most recent clients at an event back in August 2019. When this client saw my name come up again, this client remembered me and hired me.
2. Show Up:
I know it is a little apropos that I wrote down dating and single groups. Still, you just never know where you will meet a client or how. That guy I met at Speed Dating could tell another friend of his about me; and wham...I have a new client! Show up and be present; and you never know how the snowball effect will generate more brand knowledge, market presence, and eventually direct sales.
3. Pick Networking Groups that are Relevant to You!:
People are immediately attracted to commonality. You are a small business owner...I am a small business owner. You are a single Mom...I am a single Mom. You are single and looking...I am single and looking. You automatically have something to talk about, and talking is the first way to get in the door.
4. Develop Relationships:
When you show up at a networking event, put your business cards away and talk to people. Get to know them...genuinely have interest in what they say and what they need. Once you understand what they need, it is much easier to assess how and if you can help them. Or simply, you may have a synergy that could create new business for one another. Once that is established, usually there is a point in the new conversation where “What do you do” comes up. At that point, you give them a business card. You can then follow up with them. Send a note a couple of days later and/or a LinkedIn request thanking them for the connection and linking you to potential future networking opportunities. Really invest with a call or coffee meetup for those you feel that you have synergetic and potential energy.
5. Be Brave Enough to Not Make A Sale:
Not everyone you meet is a potential client (obviously, this was true for me on the single dating circuit). Still, you never know what that relationship may bring in the future. So, if you don’t think it is a good fit for you and your business, don’t make a sale or a pitch...just go along your merry way and trust that just getting your name, your brand and your services out there will eventually help you on your road to success!
You have heard it over and over again...The money is in the Follow-Up! Directly e-mail those you feel you have a strong connection with. Set-up a coffee date or phone call in the next week. With the individuals you think you may require some more time in order to develop a relationship, send a quick e-mail or text message saying that it was nice to meet at whatever networking event you met them at, and then link up via LinkedIn!
7. Have FUN!:
I do understand that I have a huge advantage in that I love to meet new people and socialize. Still, select networking events that you enjoy attending. Go 1-2 times before you commit to any membership dues and see and feel if it is a good fit for you! One of my Networking Groups is a Meetup for Art Lovers and Enthusiasts. It has nothing to do with my business. Still, I love Art, and I love that specific Meetup. I actually gained two clients from it! You just never know!
May you all go out and Network with Prosperity, Success and Fun!
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Written by MerriLyn Gibbs