Are You a "Gumball Networker"? Gumball what? I'm sure you remember gumball machines, right? You put in a coin, turn the knob, and out pops a gumball. Well, if you go to networking events and expect to leave with a prospect or a client in your pocket, then you're being a "Gumball Networker."
I know we'd all love to gain clients everywhere we go, but the truth is, clients aren't gumballs. And attending a networking event isn't a guarantee that you'll walk away with new client. Instead, if you shift your focus to meeting people and to building relationships and alliances with them, you'll have much more success! Here are six power networking strategies to get you started:
1. Know lots of different people
The foundation for building a strong network is having many acquaintances. Because most of our close friends tend to know and do what we know and do, they offer few new contacts. By having a good proportion of acquaintances, you'll create a larger and more powerful network.
2. Make new friends and have fun
Masters at networking don't network - they make friends. The real gold lies in building relationships. And you better not approach it like a chore! Growing a network should be enjoyable. Of course, this means that you should look to connect with people you enjoy. As you get to know, like and trust each other, you'll build the basis of a lasting partnership that will be far more valuable than any quick sale every could have been.
3. Don't Sell
In fact, don't sell at all! The quickest way you'll fail with networking is if you mistake it for a sales opportunity. It's not. No one wants to have a brochure opened in their face or have products or services pitched at them.
So, even if you happen to come across someone who seems like an ideal client, someone who actually wants to find out more about your services, you'll have more success if you focus on building rapport first. Then schedule a follow-up appointment as a start to the sales process.
4. Attitude is everything
Learn to really enjoy networking as a business building experience. That way, you'll also be far more attractive to others and much more likely to draw them to you.
5. Think quality over quantity
Networking is not about joining or attending a dozen events or associations every month. Instead, just pick a few that you can commit to and attend faithfully. You almost can't help but build relationships and friendships as you go to the same meetings and see the same people again and again, just as long as you leave your sales pitch at home.
6. Be Patient
If you think this sounds like it's going to take some time, you're right. Yes, networking is a solid marketing strategy, but only if you do it the right way, by building relationships, and that will take time. Keep at it, though, by being consistent, and you'll find that relationship-focused networking will yield great results and much more business than gumball networking ever did.
Ready to get more out of your own networking efforts? Listen to Success Coach Sue Clement's FREE Marketing Myths teleseminar (and join her for her "Insider Secrets to Referral Partner Success" teleseminar series), and get ready to take your business to the next level: http://www.MoreReferralsForYou.com.
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