=> Expanding Your Network
Now think about what you need to do to expand your network. Think about where you should go, what networking groups you should consider joining and how much time you have available to invest in networking. Ask people from your existing network where they go and what they do and start there. Also think about groups such as alumni clubs, industry associations and social clubs and well as your personal hobbies and interests.
Attend networking functions organized by these groups and when you're there, work room. Enjoy yourself, shake hands firmly and smile. Show up early and leave late. If you go with a friend or colleague, split up. Play your 15 second commercial over and over again. Have a 45 second version ready too for those who are interested in learning more about your business. Spend two thirds of your time with people you don't know. Don't try and sell your services, focus on building rapport with people you meet. Collect business cards and make notes on back of them to jog your memory later when it comes to making further contact with people you meet. Show genuine interest and get people to talk about themselves.
If you get anxious when meeting new people, arm yourself with a checklist of conversation starters such as industry challenges, trends impacting your business, and questions such as "What brings you to this event?" or "Tell me about customers you like to do business with". End conversation with "If there's ever anything I can do, please call" and exchange business cards.
TENDING YOUR GARDEN
As noted earlier, this is part where most people drop out of race. Therefore, it's part where you can gain your greatest competitive advantage.
Failure to continuously follow through with people they meet is number one reason most people never reach their full rainmaking potential. Many people attend functions, meet new people, collect business cards, file them in a Rolodex and wonder why nothing ever happens.
In order to succeed in your business, you must not only have a precise understanding of exactly what it is you are selling and to whom, you must also make a commitment to sell it over and over and over again, often to same person! The average person has to hear a message seven times before they will remember it. Most sales are made after fifth contact and only ten percent of people have staying power to make fifth call. That means that out of a group of 100 competitors, you're only competing against ten of them. The difference between you and other ten will come down to effectiveness of your system for maintaining contact with people who can refer you business.
Here's how to tend your garden:
=> Follow Up Initial Meeting
Following your networking activities, you will have in hand a stack of business cards from people you have met. What do you do with them other than filing them in your Rolodex? Write a short note to each person you met that you would like to develop a relationship with. This note should be handwritten, and go something like this: