5 Tips to Better Networking and Building Your Referral Database
Maybe you’re someone who loves getting out and meeting new people, or maybe you’re someone who would rather clean toilets than even think about having to try to talk to people at a networking group. The fact of the matter is, finding people that you connect with, can collaborate with or refer you is one of the BEST ways to grow your business.
1. Use Social Media to Start
There are so many ways to connect online these days! Follow people on Instagram, like their Facebook page, or get involved in groups that are specific to photography or your area to start meeting new people. Get involved in the conversations. If you see something you like, say so! If they ask for a recommendation on a book, restaurant, etc, share your favorites. Getting the conversation going online creates that first step to having a common link when you meet them in person.
2. The Networking Meeting
Find local events and seminars that you want to attend. Or if you don’t know of any, ask in your Facebook groups which ones are the most active that they like that you can go to. Once you’re there, find a group or someone to talk to. I know this can be the HARDEST part if you are not an outgoing person. But all it takes is a simple, “Hi! Mind if I join?” to break the ice in a group. Or find another loner, and simply ask “Hi! What’s your name?” Asking around on Facebook to find a buddy to go with you works well too. (And that way you won’t talk yourself out of it on the drive there. Ha!)
One you’re in a conversation, it’s also important to NOT make it all about you. Ask questions about them. What is their business, what type of projects they are working on, are they married/have kids/etc. Make note of ways that you can connect with them and/or find ways to help in the future.
3. The One on One
If you do meet for lunch or coffee with someone (and it’s the first time you’re meeting), keep in mind that time is important to everyone. As much as you want to sit and chat, keep it on the shorter side. When you invite someone, tell them that it’ll only be 30 minutes to discuss a certain topic and at the date/time of their choosing. Keep in mind, that since you’re inviting them and picking their brain, you are taking care of the bill. Follow up with them afterwards with a thank you note and maybe even a small gift for taking the time to meet.
Then hopefully if you’ve made a connection, you can continue to meet up and build on that relationship!
4. Keep Notes
After your events, make sure to go home and add your new contacts to your rolodex, contacts list, spreadsheet… however you choose to keep everyone organized! Write down notes of any upcoming projects, shows, etc that person is involved in that you can follow up with them. It never hurts to put down a few personal details that you can reference back to before you see them again. Before you know it, you’ll have your own network database built!
Note: A great networker shares their database. Don’t be greedy! When you do find a way to connect two people, make sure to ask permission before referring and do an “e-introduction” via email.
5. Follow Up
Always always follow up with the people you met and got business cards from. Sending a quick email with “It was great meeting you at (blank) yesterday!” Maybe a note about how you checked out their website or saw their work. It goes a long way showing other people that their time and conversation mattered to you. Friending them on Facebook, liking their business page, find them on Instagram, etc are also great ways to keep up the connection.
By following these few tips, you’ll have a network built up in no time!
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