Old-School Social Networking: The Key to Influence

Comments Off by in Articles
September 19, 2013
Old-School Social Networking: The Key to Influence

I am a very strong proponent of social networking. It’s been a key factor in my business growth. But I see too many entrepreneurs making a big mistake. They spend hours and hours on Facebook or LinkedIn but they never get out from behind their desk to network the old-fashioned way – face-to-face!

That’s right – every business owner should invest time and energy in face-to-face networking if they want to influence their market. Online social media is great when it comes to widening your reach but nothing beats in-person networking for the depth of relationships you can establish.

Perhaps you’ve given it a try but if you’ve been disappointed with the results. Have you ever gone to a networking event and it just seems like a massive business card exchange? You look at the 20 business cards you collected and wonder, “Who are these people?”

How can you make networking a truly influential aspect of your marketing plan as a business owner? There are three keys to success that I’ve identified over the years:

#1 – Select the Right Networking Groups

Sometimes a network just isn’t the right fit for your business. That’s okay. I personally have been very selective and sometimes visit a group several times to get a feel for the organization. The first question to ask yourself is, “Are either my target clients or potential strategic partners who serve my target clients part of this network?” If not, then you’ll want to move on. The other thing to look for is the type of environment the network fosters. If it’s really just a business card exchange, that can be a waste of your time. Look for a network that gives you opportunities to really connect with others so you can begin building long-term relationships and become a valuable resource for others in the group.

#2 – Show Up Regularly and Authentically

Have you ever had a conversation with someone that’s desperate for business? It can be a big turn-off! So don’t make the mistake of only showing up when business is slow. Make networking a regular part of your schedule. Instead of stressing about making a sale, you want to spend time enjoying yourself at these events and when you do, you naturally and gracefully communicate your personal brand with ease, cultivating new relationships and cementing existing ones.

The key is to be authentic and sincere. You don’t need to walk into the relationship with a specific agenda. Come from a place of service. Ask yourself how you can be a resource to this person. Remember, that at this point you just want to arouse their interest in you enough so they’re willing to explore the possibilities.

#3 – Don’t be Afraid to Connect with Key Influencers

While you don’t want to be aggressive in your approach, don’t be overly shy. Figure out the key influencers in the group or who would make a great strategic partner because they already work with your target market. When you’ve identified this high-level influencer you need to quiet the voice in your head saying you’re not good enough. Who says that you can’t seek out higher-level people? When it’s a win-win for the two of you why wouldn’t someone, even if they’re more successful than you, want to partner with you in a specific business strategy? The real issue here is that we simply don’t even try.

Now let me give you some powerful language to use when you see an opportunity for this type of collaboration. If you are networking and come across a person you’d love to add to your partner network say something like…

“I really admire the type of work you do with your clients. I’d love to hear more in-depth how you get them such fabulous results. It looks like we serve a similar target market as I offer XYZ service. We may have a way to synergistically collaborate to complement each other’s work. Would you be open to meeting at a later date to explore each other’s work in greater detail and explore this opportunity? It might turn out to be a win-win for both of us and then we can discuss the details. But even if we decide it’s not a fit for either one of us, no problem, we’ve had an opportunity to get to know each other better.”

Give it a try! These influential people can boost your brand and business to a whole new level because people highly respect them.

If you implement these suggestions you’ll not only deepen your influence in your business community, you’ll learn to enjoy networking! I personally have met a number of wonderful people who are now great friends of mine, all because we connected at a business networking event. I would recommend any of them to a potential prospect in a minute because I know and trust these people.

Predictable Results™ Assignment

Pick two new networking groups to attend this month and implement the three suggestions in this week’s article.

As a pioneering and visionary innovator, Sarah is a certified professional image consultant and brand strategist, speaker, trainer and author. Her company, Illustra Business Coaching, provides leading-edge business building strategies for small business owners & entrepreneurs who wish to take their company to the next level.

Illustra Business Coaching
Copyright © 2013, Sarah Hathorn, AICI CIP, CPBS
1-800-267-3245, info@illustrabusinesscoaching.com
This article may be reproduced only in it’s entirety, including the above bio.

You may also like:

Comment on Facebook