When I started my own business in Tokyo 10 years ago, everyone told me I should start networking. I knew no-one in the city, so it made sense.
However my impression of networking was that it was slimy experience with people pushing their business cards into your hand and attempting to close you on the spot with what ever they were selling.
Sadly, the first networking event I went to in that city was pretty much as I described above! I wanted to run for the hills and just wish that my new clients would find me by magic.
Once I got over my shock, I decided to do some research into networking. I figured it was a skill that I needed to learn about, just as I learnt Presentation Skills, or even how to drive.
10 years on, a new city and hundreds, if not thousands of networking events later, 70% of my business is derived from networking. Even writing that, I feel somewhat shocked that this is the case when I can still feel that unease I felt all those years ago.
Networking is a great way not only to build your business but also to meet like-minded people, establish new collaborative partnerships and even make new friends.
I want you to enjoy networking, because no matter how long you have been in business, or even if you are thinking of crossing over to start up, it is an essential activity. Irrespective of the business you gain from it, the social connection and support is critical.
I would love to share with you my simple formula to make networking an effective use of your time and also a great way to really enjoy it!
It is called the IFF model
I – Intention
Before you set out for your networking event, set an intention for it. You are using up your precious time, so what is the return on investment you want from it. Create a goal, for instance, “I want to meet 3 people who could be prospects”, or “I want to meet some one who knows about xxx”.
When you make an intention, chances are it will be realized.
F – FEEL GOOD
Instead of being worried about how many deals you need to close to make the event a success, focus on the other person. When you do this and you make then Feel Good, you will relax and have a much better time. Pan questions that you can ask people about them, their business and what they love about what they do. You will find the conversation flows easily.
F- FOLLOW UP
If you do not make time to Follow Up after an event, don’t bother going. Strong words I know but if you want to get business from networking, building trust is essential. The first step in building trust is to do what you said you would. So if you promised to introduce a contact, send some information then do it!
Schedule in follow up time in your calendar every time you make a networking booking. Then you have no excuses!
Let me know how you go with the IFF model!