6 Ways to Network like a Pro
In this industry, you gotta know people, right? Or, it’s not necessarily WHAT you know, it’s WHO you know. Clichés aside, it really cannot be stressed enough how important networking is for wedding professionals like your lovely self. Getting your name and business out there and well known by other colleagues is fantastic for your reputation and could lead to great referrals. So, what better way is there to network than to smash it like a pro?
Have a seat, pour yourself a glass of wine, martini, or even a green tea, and let me give you some tips on how to do just that. This article is aimed at face to face networking, however there are some points you can apply to networking online. Bear in mind, we are talking about networking with other wedding industry professionals only, and not potential couples.
get out there
Ok, so this one seems slightly obvious. The thing is though, how out there are you? Networking these days is way more than just handing round a cute business card at a breakfast get together. There are different types of events now, coffee mornings, expos, dinners, etc. With wedding professionals, networking could be at an industry conference, maybe a wedding exhibition, even mixers designed solely for the industry. Mix it up, get out there and TALK to people! Everywhere there is people, believe it or not, is a networking opportunity! So, what are you waiting for?
be in the moment
Time to face facts. If you are at a networking event, don’t be a wallflower. This is a great chance for you to get to know people, so do that. Talk, converse, laugh and have a bit of fun. Also, get off your phone! This is no time for tapping away! If you absolutely MUST tag your location on Facebook, or tweet your activities, do it before or after the event. There is nothing more ignorant than frantically tapping away on a phone screen while someone is trying to speak to you. A little social etiquette please!
find common ground
You know when you go on a first date? There is a little small talk, a few nervous chuckles, questions here and there as you try to find each other’s likes and dislikes? Apply this to networking! Now, don’t go home with the person, (this isn’t Tinder), but do try and find somethings in common with the people you speak to. It will not only put you and them at ease, it should make it easier to connect and find reasons to connect again in future. Don’t necessarily talk only about your business or the wedding industry, don’t forget, you are still people outside of this! Throw in some personal details, do you have children? Where are you going on holiday this year? Are you looking forward to the upcoming blockbuster at the cinema? Find some common ground, it will enrich your conversations.
Contrary to what you may think, you are not there to sell your services. This is networking, not selling time. You are at this event to make connections; form potential working relationships and try to get your name out there more. By all means, do share what you do and be proud to talk about it, just try not to make it into a sales pitch. Don’t glaze over if someone asks you about your business and go into full hard sell mode, (have you seen people do that? Scary huh?).
If you do manage to get a referral from the event, bonus, but honestly, don’t expect it. Having solid contacts with people will be much more beneficial and have more potential for you in the long run.
be genuinely interested
Just like finding things in common with the people you are speaking to, listen and be genuinely interested in what they have to say. Just like with yours, their businesses are very important to them and they are there for the same reasons you are. Chances are, they are even feeling the same as you. Smile, nod and mirror their body language. Engage and respond accordingly. Ask them questions when appropriate and listen to the answers. This will prove that you are likeable and authentic.
follow up like a boss!
This is the most important tip I can give you! Do not leave this. The same evening as the event, (or first thing the next morning, if it was a late one) check in with a follow up email. Keep the connection going. Going back to the date analogy. After that first date, if you liked the person, you would be in touch, right? Don’t play hard to get, especially with networking. So, send them an email, say how much you enjoyed talking to them, attach an article or something you think they might find interesting. Ask some open-ended questions, give them something to think about. Keep the connection going.
Hope you enjoyed these tips and that you put them into practice! Have you got some killer networking tips to share? I’d love to hear about them! Leave them in the comments below!
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