Networking events are a great way to grow your list of contacts. This isn’t exactly breaking news but many investors network for the wrong reasons. They go simply to talk to someone they know have an appetizer and slip out before the meeting is over. Those investors that embrace networking and more importantly understand how to do it see an immediate bump in their contacts. The more contacts you have the greater chance you will see deals come your way. Networking shouldn’t be viewed as something you have to do. If you embrace it and accept that it is part of the business will get more out of it. Here are five ways to get the most out of every networking opportunity that comes your way.
Don’t Just Show Up. Going to early morning networking groups or after hours investment clubs can take a little motivation. If you are going just to cross it off your list you might as well not even go. This may sound harsh but going with this mentality doesn’t do much for you. You should attend every meeting or club with a purpose. Try to get at least one meeting that can turn into a real contact. Even if you can’t get a meeting you should set the groundwork so you can get a meeting with someone in the future. What you can’t do is sit in your seat and act like this is the last place in the world you want to be. You may feel this way inside but you can’t project this to everyone in the room. Just a couple of solid contacts can really change your entire business. These contacts are usually there for the taking at every meeting. Don’t just show up and wait for the meeting to end. Make the most out of your time there.
Pick A Target. After you have showed up for a few meetings you can get a sense of who is in the room. Some of these people have more value to your business than others. One way to increase efficiency is by targeting one or two people you want to connect with. Do some homework on their company and how they operate. Come up with a few ways that you can add value to them. Look at their website and see if there is something that can be a potential conversation starter. Once you initiate contact start in with your pitch. You don’t need to have a full blown sales pitch but something that is called an elevator pitch. You should be able to talk about you, your business and what you can do for them within sixty seconds. Anything longer and you run the risk of them losing interest. By narrowing your focus and being prepared at every meeting you give yourself the best chance for success.
Don’t Rule Anyone Out. Some of the best contacts you will ever meet will come from the most unlikely sources. It is important that you never dismiss anyone you come in contact with. This doesn’t mean you have to devote the entire meeting to them but you should listen with an open ear. A mobile home property manager may not seem like a fit at first glance but you don’t know who else they know or what else they manage. The same is the case with everyone you come in contact with at your networking meetings. Always take a business card and follow up in a timely fashion. The real estate business is very localized and you never know when you will come in contact with someone again. There is a good chance that at some point in the future you will.
Always Exchange Contact Info. After every conversation you should ask for a business card. Not only does this allow you to follow up but it lets you do a little bit of homework on who you were speaking with. A golden rule of networking meetings is making sure you always have business cards. There is no excuse to ever run out. As soon as you see you are getting low you need to place an order. Not only does not having a card make you look unprofessional but it reduces your credibility. If you are new to a club or meeting you should try to get as many business cards as possible. This doesn’t mean you should end conversations abruptly just to move onto the next one. You should be able to work in the room and end up with a handful of new business cards. Business cards are your in to following up.
Schedule Follow Up Meeting. One of the toughest things in networking is to turn a couple of good conversations into a meeting. The biggest reason is that most people don’t know how to go about asking. Instead of throwing out a blanket proposal have a set time, date and location in mind. This makes is more difficult to say no. Ask them what they are doing next Wednesday for lunch. Tell them you have some ideas of how we can possible work together. Stress that it is very informal and you won’t take up too much of their time. Most businesspeople would welcome the chance at a free lunch to hear about ways to grow their business. Once the meeting is scheduled you need to be able to convert the meeting into a meaningful relationship. This will take some time and trust but all you can really ask for is an opportunity. Your opportunity starts with scheduling a meeting.
Networking is something you need to focus on regardless of where you are in your business. You can truly never have enough contacts.
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