By Jemila Morson, Networking Specialist and Founder of MorLadies Network
If you are reading this, you may already know the importance of using social networking offline to build a successful business and a trusted brand. Offline networking not only allows you to find the perfect prospects to serve, but also gives you the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals who will empower, support and inspire you along the way.
So, let’s get started! Here are the top 10 questions you MUST answer before you embark on your new networking journey.
1) Have you determined the desired outcome?
Knowing what you want is the key to getting it. Getting clear on your desires and goals will help you to be mindful before, during, and after your networking experiences and attain your intended result. Also, by discovering what you really hope to achieve through networking, you may actually find additional or alternative ways to reach your business goals.
2) Are you ready to start before you are “ready”?
Start networking no matter what stage you are at with your business. Even if you are still in a nine-to-five and side hustling to create a health practice of your own, it’s never too soon to begin networking. You will build true friendships and receive great guidance, resources and inspiration from those around you. You’ll find that people love lending a hand, especially when they have struggled through similar circumstances themselves. By starting before you are “ready” you allow others to be a part of your journey. And then when you are ready to announce your next big move, your network will be eager to support you!
3) Have you connected with your inner circle?
Sometimes it can feel a little awkward or “salesy” to talk to your friends about your business, but in truth, our inner circle is the foundation upon which so many of our connections are built. Start re-connecting with those you trust and keep your business a casual conversation piece. Ask them to visit your new site and give you pointers or invite them to your next event. This can a valuable and more private means of testing ideas before they hit the public. Keeping your inner circle abreast of your business goals and aspirations as well as achievements is smart from another strategic perspective: your inner circle already likes and trusts you and, if properly informed, can become essential voices for you and your business.
4) Who would be in your ideal network?
This question is straightforward but vital to great networking. Before you start networking really consider the types of people you want to connect with. Where do they work? Where do they hang out? What groups are they apart of? What hobbies or activities do they partake in? What are the kind of events they attend? Answering questions like these will tell you exactly where to go to make the connections you want and need.
5) How does the networking venture you chose make you feel?
This is a great question that many people never ask themselves. The way you feel prior to attending an event or meeting with someone will largely impact your success in that interaction. Does the person or event make you nervous? If so, why? You never want to go into a social encounter with unchecked emotions. If you anticipate your feelings about the encounter beforehand you will be prepared to deal with them and look more polished and professional. Take note of those emotions and center yourself before embarking upon the networking event.
6) What do you do?
If you answer this question with your job title or position, STOP right there! So many of us make this mistake and it can be the difference between wowing a connection or making little impact at all. Knowing and stating the result of your work (aka what you do) is the best way to introduce yourself and stand out from the crowd/others who may do similar work. When someone asks what you do, answer them like this: “I support women with chronic digestive issues” vs. “I am a health and fitness coach”. You might just find that their next question is: “How?” You can then give your pitch or job description and tell them more about your business. By starting with the end result of your work, you automatically create interest and wonder and lead the conversation forward.
7) Do you know how to stand out?
So now you are all ready to go and you want to set yourself apart from the crowd. Here are some ways to do just that:
- Find an interesting way to start the conversation
- Ask deeper questions
- Listen intently
- Create a unique pitch, business card, or way to remember your name
- Think of the ways you can help or elevate others before asking for help
- Dress to impress
8) Do you know how to create long term connections?
The key to this one is sustaining communication. Keep track of everyone you meet by predetermining a place to store business cards during the event, and jotting down a quick note about any pertinent details you spoke about, either on their card directly or in the notes section of your phone,. And most importantly: don’t let connections die! As soon as you get home, email everyone you met and thank them for any help they offered or simply tell them what a pleasure it was to meet them. It’s helpful if you can mention a few specifics of your interaction with them. Did the two of you have something in common (maybe an account you both loved on Instagram)? Did you differ in a fun or memorable way (avid supporters of rival sports teams, Moscato vs. red wine)? Personal connections always leave room for future interaction and it’s a great way to jog their memory.
9) Are you prepared for rejection?
Rejection will come at every stage of your networking journey. You may meet objection or lack of support from members of your inner circle. There is a possibility you may not be accepted into the network or association to which you applied. And if you are accepted, there will always be those who are unable or have no interest in helping you reach your business goals. Are you prepared to learn and grow through those kinds of experiences? Having a positive and progressive outlook will keep you from taking rejection too personally. This is essential to your success and overall happiness. Practice empowering yourself to stick with your plan and view rejection as a blessing. Believe that those who do not support you are not necessarily trying to hurt or hinder you, they just weren’t meant to join you on your journey. The rejections that will come are essential to your story, and what’s better than a story of triumph after contending with a few trials?
10) Be yourself!
Don’t worry about impressing people too much, just be yourself and have fun with the experiences. Always present yourself before your business because people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
About the Author
Jemima Morson is passionate about connecting with others and believes that community development is the key to personal development. This belief is the catalyst for all her professional endeavors. For over 4 years, she has worked in communication and branding primarily through social technology. She takes pride in empowering entrepreneurs to reach their business goals by learning and leveraging the power of social capital in new and innovative ways. Her strategic and creative approach to networking on and offline have helped YouTube and Media Personalities, Event Planners, Coaches, Publications and Organizations. The work she does has helped her clients improve their brand image as well as build and manage social media followings with over 16,000 people. In 2013 she attained her M.A. Degree in Managerial Communication from Bellevue University and hopes to return to her Alma Mater for her Doctorate within the next few years. She is currently a Networking Specialist and Founder of MorLadies Network a new age empowerment network for Boss Ladies.
Connect with Jemila via LinkedIn, at https://www.linkedin.com/in/jemilamorson