Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Networking Do's and Don'ts for the Consultant

Today I want to talk about what is possibly one of the best forms of marketing any consultant can do. It's inexpensive and it has the greatest impact on your business. I'm talking about networking.

Some call it "greasing palms", some call it "schmoozing". I think Michael Port, in his book "Book Yourself Solid" defines it better by calling it "connecting". Networking typically takes place at events set up for the intended purpose of attracting a wide array of business people to a single location. However, Port recommends that you treat every situation big or small like it was a networking meeting. He provides many tips on how to make the most of any networking situation.

I have my own tips. Some of them are similar to Port's and some I have learned over the years.

Networking Do's -

  • Practice the RICH principle - When meeting with someone at a networking event, be Reflective of their demeanor. Be Interested in what they have to say. Be Cheerful and be Helpful. Be attentive to their needs both personally and professionally.
  • Listen - hear and understand what they have to say.
  • Attend regularly - you only get the most out of a networking organization if you become involved and become a regular fixture at the events.
  • Follow-up - when you meet someone at an event, call or write to them the next day. Thank them for the conversation and deliver on any promises you made to them such as sharing information or providing them with the name of a contact.
Networking Don'ts -
  • Just take and hand out cards - get to know the people you are meeting with. What interests them and what are their immediate needs? Find out!
  • Do all the talking - not letting the other person have their say.
  • Not attend - if you don't attend, how will people get to know you. At every event there is always someone new to meet.
  • Fail to follow-through on promises - if you promised something to another person you met at the event, follow-through! People remember these things and if you are not true to your word it counts against you.
Next time you are in a networking situation, like the upcoming meeting of Treasure Valley Consultants' Network, think about these tips. You'll find how easy they are to apply and the results will be apparent.

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