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As business owners and entrepreneurs you’ll need to embrace networking, I highlighted 10 escape routes out of the 9-5 in my recent article on how to start a profitable business from home. So whether you want to consultant, freelance, or create online courses, networking will help you get the word out.
Networking can feel a bit daunting for many, the idea of walking up to strangers at an event to spark up a conversation may fill the average person with panic, anxiety and clammy hands. For some, networking comes naturally, but if it doesn’t here are some tips to help you along your way.
Breathe – Take a deep breath and relax. Remember if you’re at a networking event, that everyone present is there for the exact the same reason as you, to network and make connections. Try doing some deep breathing exercises, where you breath in on the count of four, hold for the count of four and slowly release your breathe for the count of four. It helps to calm you down.
Attending events – There are events for literally every industry, be it tradeshows, meet up events, conferences, breakfast seminars, lunch events, they all provide great networking opportunities. Make sure you are researching and attending relevant events to make new contacts.
Online interaction – Don’t forget there are plenty of opportunities to network online via social platforms, like LinkedIn and Facebook where you can find various groups to engage with. As well as Instagram and twitter where you can participate in Tweet chats, such as ‘#Bizhour’ that provide an opportunity to network with others from various locations around the world.
Be visible – There’s no point going to network and then hiding in the corner, let your presence be known, go and introduce yourself and don’t forget to bring your business cards. If you forget them, why not add your new contacts on LinkedIn –the professional networking platform.
Be yourself – Don’t feel the need to put on false pretences or inflate the truth in order to impress others, we are all at different stages in our life journey. Yes, you’ll want to make a good impression, but you can do that by being your true authentic self, there is only one you after all.
Listen attentively – Networking allows you to tell others what you are doing and about work you have planned coming up but be aware of not going on and on about yourself. You don’t want to take over the conversation, it’s important to listen attentively to those you engage and interact with, whether online or offline.
Be confident and thoughtful – Networking takes some confidence, you have to belief in yourself and your expertise. Sell yourself and your skills, but also be helpful. If you meet someone that isn’t looking for your service, but you happen to know someone else who can help them, why not connect them. It’s good to help others and leaves a good impression. What goes around comes around, helping others to connect will help you in the long run. It’s nice to be nice.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions – We often over think things, we may have a question or want an introduction, some advice, whatever it is ask. Nothing ventured nothing gained so if you don’t ask you won’t get. Ask the burning questions you have, no such thing as stupid question.
Don’t be afraid to circulate – Sometimes you can get into a comfort zone speaking to people that you really connect and gel with. You may have lots in common which great, but remember to keep your eye on the goal, which is to network so be sure to circulate and be polite in making your exit.
Long-term vision – Making new contacts is the point of networking, but more often than not, it’s the long-term relationships that lead to work and business deals being made. Focus on developing mutually beneficial relationships and think long-term. They may not need you now but maybe in the future. Stay in touch and keep it genuine and professional.
Remember to Follow-up
Following up, sounds like an obvious thing to say and do, but you’d be surprised at how quick things can slip our minds, we networking get back home put the new business cards down and get distracted with work. Its super important to follow up with the contacts you’ve made. Instead of putting down the business cards to collect dust, take some time the following day to send an email letting the new contacts know it was great to meet them and to stay in touch. It’s also a good chance for you to remind them of the services you offer and that you are there to help if needed.
Keep your word
If you make a contact and promise to do something for them, be sure to get it done. You don’t want to look flaky and unreliable by not following through with something you specifically told someone you would do. Not a great way to make an impression.
I wrote this for MBA World:
How To Become A Consultant; A Guide To Free Yourself From The 9-5’. Available from Amazon, iBook, Google Play, Barnes & Noble and other online platforms.
As a straight talker I’ll happily share that, most of the time when someone mentions starting an online business there’s a catch, they’re trying to sell you something, or get you to sign up to their program, be it a coaching program or a network marketing program where you sell other people’s products and the list goes on.
I’ve been to lots of seminars and events where you have a coach saying the best online business is to become a coach and of course they are selling coaching courses. Have a look around YouTube and you’ll find lots of people talking about starting an Amazon FBA business and it just so happens that they have a course you can purchase.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of this, I have written and published a book and I am selling a course, but I won’t tell you that it’s the only way to become successful in business. My DIY PR course is about adding skills to your amour and my book is about taking your current skills and using them to consultant – where you can work from home and choose the hours you work, like I do.
The truth of the matter is for you to have a successful online business that you enjoy, it needs to be something you are passionate about. An online business that you will happily, and willingly commit to, and show up for on a daily basis. There is no quick scheme or magic pill to take that will result in you waking up to a thriving business and your bank account overflowing with money. So really you have to look within and be honest with yourself. Why? Because as corny as it may sound, YOU my friend have the answers inside, only you can identify what interests you, your passions, the thing you’ve always wanted to do but been to scared, or the what you enjoy doing that doesn’t feel like work for you.
Remember that you’ll be the one putting in all the work so it needs to be something that genuinely interests and excites you and of course has appeal to your target audience so you can make some money and have financial freedom.
Online business ideas
There are lots of online business models that you can explore, you may already have ideas or perhaps not sure where to start, but you know you don’t want to be where you are now. Go check out my free guide on ‘How to start a profitable online business’ where I suggest 10 online business models and the steps you need to take to get started right away!
Don’t forget if you’re serious about getting your vision off the ground, you can sign up for accountability sessions with me to stay on track! How many times have we said we’ll do something but end up putting it off or talking ourselves out of things? We’re human so yes that does happen, so that’s why accountability is a must and is so critically important, look around…how do you think top athletes and entrepreneurs get to the top of their game.