When it comes to business networking, is there a secret sauce? At CFS, we certainly have a system for this (stay tuned for our new resource on Networking to be released next week!)—But what about others? I just had to know, so I asked!
I spoke with two very bright and active networkers about connecting and generating new business leads—I’m very excited to share their top business networking tips with you! Check it out…
4 Business Networking Tips from Lindsey Neff
Lindsey Neff, Owner and Head Designer of Larkspur Botanicals, has these great ideas to share:
1. Be a gardener.
Lindsey says to “cast seeds—meet with everyone and don’t judge a book by its cover. Don’t be so fast to dismiss people who you think aren’t going to bring you business right away.” She shared countless examples with me on how she has acquired great clients and business connections from people she least expected.
2. If selling is hunting, then networking is farming.
“Recognize that it takes work and patience to develop a fruitful relationship,” says Lindsey. “Get to know people, gain their trust, and they will keep you in mind when the right time comes to make a good introduction.”
3. The flower doesn’t bloom for the bee.
This is one of Lindsey’s favorite quotes. “The flower doesn’t bloom for the bee. The flower blooms and the bee comes.” Think about what you provide as something valuable that others are drawn to.
4. Love people and be confident.
The best networking is genuine. People see through you if you are trying too hard. Confidence comes when you focus less on you and more on them. Take a genuine interest in others, in what they do, and in what they say.
5 Business Networking Tips from Laura Sauer
Laura Sauer, Senior Account Executive at Toshiba Business Solutions, is a huge networker and has these pearls of wisdom to share:
1. Trust your gut.
Be rigorous about saying “no.” Because of her large, extensive network, her friends and colleagues invite Laura to lots of events. “After many events, when my gut told me there would be few prospects for meaningful connections, I decided to politely decline. I’ve learned to say something like, “John, tell you what—I won’t attend that meeting—but if it’s OK with you, instead, why don’t we go together to this other event, which will be a great way for the two of us to partner up and work the room.”
2. Have a wing man.
One of Laura’s favorite ways to squeeze every ounce of value from an event is to have a buddy that is covering the rest of the room at the same time. “At the beginning, we agree to provide each other with at least 6 introductions to someone else we haven’t personally spoken to in the room. It’s like I clone myself. I can cover a room of contacts in half the time. It’s all about connecting more dots.”
3. Be curious.
When you are curious, people tend to relax and share more because they are being heard. “I remember a saying that CFS gave me a while ago, which is ‘to be interesting, be interested.’ People love it when I’m hanging on their every word. In my case it’s genuine.”
4. Tell stories.
“I like to come to an event prepared with at least 3 ice breakers. For example, a recent medical breakthrough I read about, or a corporate merger, or something more personal related to food or health.”
5. The early bird catches the worm.
“I get to events early because that’s when the big-wigs and serious networkers arrive, make their connections, and get home in time for dinner. I’ve found that people with high intention and clear focus don’t want to engage in fruitless dialog. They are on a mission and once it’s accomplished, cut and run.”
These ladies have some seriously awesome tips for business networking! I’d also like to add a few more of my favorite networking tips.
4 Business Networking Tips from Charles Bernard
1. Buddy up with the host.
Before the event gets underway, meet with the host and tell them who you are looking to meet. Ask them to introduce you, or at a minimum, point them out. By doing this, I save myself a ton of time. This piggybacks on what Laura shares about getting to events early.
2. Act like the host.
By remembering who I spoke with and connecting them to someone else I’m talking with, I can help make good connections. This is good because it not only allows me to contribute, but 9 times out of 10, the other person responds in kind.
3. Make people laugh.
Being good-humored and making others laugh is my best way to break the ice. It’s a lot like Lindsey’s point about being a gardener. Love the act of tilling, planting, and reaping what you sow. I always go to networking events to have fun and enjoy myself. I’ve found that this can be contagious. I like to think that if you’re at an event with a whole group of people in one corner of the room laughing loudly, you’ll find I’m usually in it.
4. Have your commercials ready.
The last thing I want at an event when someone asks me what I “do,” is to wing it. I like to have a variety of 30-second commercials locked and loaded and ready to go. I then have the option of picking the one that seems most engaging to the person I’m talking to at the moment.
I hope you find these business networking tips helpful as you’re out gardening! I’d love to hear some of your top networking tips—please comment below!
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