Over the last few weeks, I’ve answered a couple of your pressing network marketing questions and we’ve discussed how to deal with negativity and motivate your team. These issues are ones that most new MLM professionals have faced, and the topic of this week’s question is no different. The challenge is this: how do you develop the skill of “networking” and speaking with strangers when you have always been at workaholic and never ventured out past the office?
The first key to networking is not to think of it as this big, scary thing- instead, think of it as making new friends. It’s about meeting new people and developing relationships, so don’t let the term “networking” scare you. We did it when we were kids, so it’s time to get back to basics. Remember, even your closest friends started out as strangers!
More great networking tips and strategies can be found in my Power Prospecting Manual!
As you get started, start small. Don’t let fear keep you sidelined and prevent you from getting out there and meeting new people. Even if it’s as simple as striking up a conversation with the person behind you at the grocery store, make it a goal to meet at least one new person every day. In the beginning, don’t worry about making long-term connections; instead, use these daily interactions as a way to practice breaking the ice with strangers. It’ll loosen up and stretch out that unused or tense networking muscle and help you gain confidence for future interactions with others.
As you “up” your game, begin to seek out opportunities with larger groups at planned events to grow your network of connections. Start by getting involved in a cause or organization that interests you- maybe it’s a local running club or church fundraising committee, but find a group where you share a passion for a common cause or interest. Joining a group where you have this common bond provides you with a built-in topic of conversation to get things started.
Next, you’ll want to venture out to formal networking events held by your local chamber, rotary club or professional networking group to widen your reach. These events will give you an opportunity to connect with other professionals interested in networking. Below are a few tips to help you navigate events and grow your network:
- Be prepared. For each event, have a goal in mind and plan in place before attending. Prepare by rehearsing your introduction and having a few topics in mind to get the conversation flowing. Make sure to dress professionally and have business cards to exchange with those you meet.
- Be aware. Remember that networking events aren’t for selling your product or service; they’re about making new connections. Don’t be the person butting into conversations trying to sell your product or service to strangers. Selling comes later- connecting comes first.
- Be a listener. We have two ears and only one mouth for a reason. Listen more than you speak- people love talking about themselves, so be an active listener and ask relevant questions to further the conversation.
- Be positive. Always talk positively when speaking with new people. Nobody likes a negative Nellie- be upbeat and engaged in your conversations.
- Be true to yourself. If you’re more of an introvert, don’t try to meet everyone in the room and instead focus on connecting with a select few people. Break the ice in a way that is natural for you, and don’t be afraid to admit if you are feeling a bit intimidated. People admire honesty and likely feel similarly, so don’t be afraid to speak your truth.
- Be responsive. After events, it’s essential to follow up with new contacts. Email or call to let them know it was a pleasure meeting them and set up a time for coffee to begin growing the relationship. Keep that connection going by occasionally sharing information of value to them unrelated to your business. Developing relationships takes time, but it’s an investment worth making.
Networking can be challenging, but its rewards are well worth the effort. By making it a daily habit to network, you’re doing the essential work to build your organization. Not every day will be a home run, but if you weren’t happy with the results you had today, do something different tomorrow- don’t be discouraged.
Tomorrow is a new day – DO BETTER.
P.S.- I’ve launched registration for my Advanced Train the Trainer workshop again. Join me in learning more about successfully building your team and create the lifestyle you want- click here to find out more!