Networking- Pay It Forward

I’ve been doing a lot of networking lately. It is probably the best way for me to generate clients. And that is true for many business people, especially those who are just starting out.

For those of you who are fearful, I need to tell you to put away your fears.  Everyone is there for the same reason.  To talk to others and to see if there are mutual business opportunities. So you don’t need to worry about walking up to two or three people already engaged in a conversation.  Just put on a big smile and barge right in.  I have rarely found a group not willing to entertain an additional party.

In person networking events have had another added benefit for me, besides generating business connections. It has given me a chance to hone my elevator speech.  And in the process of talking about what I do, I have found that I have really clarified for myself my unique position in the market.  And the more I explain it to people, the more positive feedback and interest I get.  Which in turn makes me want to network even more.

There are certain “rules” to effective networking. You can find them with a good internet search.  Don’t try to sell.  Be “on”, so that you engage people and they want to talk to you. Remember that everyone wants to meet others, but not all others will have the same value to you.  There will be potential clients, and referral sources and everything else.

But the one thing that I have found to work best…which many people miss…is to pay it forward.  Go into a networking event thinking about how you can help others, instead of how others can help you.

You can help people through your product or service, a connection to someone, even some good business advice.  Perhaps the person you meet is struggling with a business issue that you have tackled yourself. Engage them in a conversation about their business and see where you can add value.  Maybe all you can do is just keep them in mind as you make your way in the world.  But you never know until you ask, “How can I help you”?

Asking others how you can help them will make you stand out in a crowd…and being remembered at a networking event is always important.  And if you help someone first, they will be more inclined to help you if they can.  But the most important reason to help someone is because it will come back to you. The best way to get is to give.

Good luck.

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