20 Powerful Networking Tips for Women
Since I had a private practice for many years, networking was something I did not do. My practice stayed full and I barely had time to turn around, let alone network. When I decided I had a passion for helping women everywhere, not just those who made it to my office, I realized that networking was an important part of women strengthening and growing their businesses and relationship ties in the community.
In the beginning my desires to help small business professionals entirely targeted to women, so I researched women’s networking and was disappointed. I thought they would be more loving, supportive and encouraging, instead of that business-to-business feel. Maybe it was me? Maybe I was different or had been a touchy-feely therapist for too long, but I wanted to experience joy in my new connections?
I discovered that most of the women networking organizations were built around the male model of business networking. I wanted to attend a female networking event built on the women’s endocrine system but there wasn’t one, so I decided to create one of my own. That was 3 years ago in 2008. Now in 2011, The Heart Link Women’s Network has over 150 women networking locations in the US and Canada and I receive emails everyday from women thanking me for this beautiful, fun and effective way for women to meet, greet, connect and especially market their businesses. I was right. There were a lot of women like me in the world. I built The Heart Link Women’s Network for women to link heart-to-heart. That is why we named it The Heart Link Network.
To effectively network, we need to take an interest in others, listen to what they have to say, collaborate and cooperate to help one another. When I designed The Heart Link Network, I wanted to build in a way for every woman to be heard by every woman, so I created the three-minute showcase for every woman to share what she was passionate about. In three minutes women have a chance to communicate what is behind the name tag and share a bit of her soul.
Here are 20 proven ways to get the most out of your business networking efforts:
- Choose the right network for your business. Do you like happy hour networking? Do you want more business referral networking? Do you want more intimate quality relationship building networking? Take a careful look at your business needs as well as your personality.
- Organizations can be expensive to join—not just money, but your time as well. Visit the meeting twice before joining.
- Be consistent. Commit to the attending your networking events on a regular basis.
- Get involved—volunteer for a committee or to do a job during the meeting itself. Take on positions that will allow you to become known by more people.
- Never hand out cards with crossed out information. I know it is tempting to use those thousands of cards with the one mistake, but don’t do it. It is also a good idea to design a card with your picture on it.
- Follow up and follow through. Schedule a follow up time and a 20-minute coffee meeting. The fortune is in the follow up.
- Appear confident – even if in the beginning you feel like you are pretending, keep pretending until it is actually true.
- Be aware of your body language. 90% of what we are communicating we are communicating with our bodies. Remember to stand up straight and breathe deeply. It will help you stay centered and focused.
- Don’t fidget. People notice when you are fidgeting. Have people who love you share if you have any non-conscious habits that might distract people’s attention from the value of your products and services. Break those habits.
- Introduce yourself first. Be bold. Don’t wait on others to come to meet you. Go and meet them.
- Shake hands like you are truly pleased to meet someone. They can feel your sincerity.
- Use a person’s name several times when you first meet. It will help you remember their name. People love to hear their names.
- Ask open ended questions. Don’t answer questions that can be answered with simple yes or no’s or that is what you might just get.
- Listen carefully and intently. Listening is the best way to build trust in a new relationship.
- Have a :30, 1 minute and 2 minute “elevator speech” prepared for when someone asks what you do. Make sure you use every word carefully and powerfully.
- Be a connector. Work to think of connections you can make for the person to whom you are speaking. People will naturally want to connect you with prospects as well.
- When you share, share the benefits your customers receive as a result using your products and services. People want to know, “what is in it for them?”. For example, “as a result of my services, my clients reduce their stress and improve their stamina. This results in increased self confidence, increased earning potential and the energy to enjoy their time with their family.”
- Express your positive thoughts about the person and/or their business. So many times we assume successful people don’t need to be commended or reassured, but everyone enjoys it.
- Remember, business networking is marketing, and marketing is a process. Chances are you won’t get 5 new clients or customers from your next networking event. Your goal should be for others to get to know you, the resources you possess and the services you offer. People want to do business with people they like. Realize that these events allow people to become acquainted with you and eventually utilize your services or recommend you to someone else.
- Just get out there, fill your heart with a generous spirit, be real, and enjoy yourself! Becoming a successful business networker can open your life up to a miriad of new and wonderful relationships, experiences and profits.