Networking events are tough, you walk in, look around and think to yourself, “who should I talk to exactly?”. Once you finally find a target, you get really uncomfortable trying to figure out exactly what to say. You walk over with your hand in your pocket ,clenching all of your 50 business cards you plan on giving out that night. And as you walk up to the person, you awkwardly join in their conversation they’re having with someone else. Nodding..., agreeing…. and waiting for your chance to talk. THEN, the conversation ends, but before you can say a word, they have to head out or they begin talking to someone else - and just like that, your opportunity is gone.
If only there was a better way to build a relationship with people that didn’t make you feel so uncomfortable… Well, In this article, I'm going to give you some tips for growing your business by building better relationships without being so damn awkward all the time…
there's better ways to build relationships then awkwardly walking into networking events
One of the most underrated keys to business to business transactions, is relationship building. Most people already know that, but what you probably didn't know if that there's better ways to build relationships then awkwardly walking into networking events with the intentions of making a big sale.
When building a business relationship, you want to be careful about chasing specific people or being in awe of their greatness. A good business relationship is one that feels perfectly even. One that you're both able to gain something. If a relationship is unbalanced, it will likely become a mentor relationship, which is absolutely a good thing when you're trying to start but not as helpful when you're trying to grow your business.
Here's a list of 8 things that you can try to start growing business relationships that will make you feel less awkward.
1 - Grow your existing business relationships. It's never a bad idea to get lunch or coffee with someone you currently know. And while you’re there, you could ask them about anyone they know that you should meet, maybe there’s a way they can set up an introduction of some sort for you.
2 - Be more intentional about the people you want to meet and simply ask if they'd like to get a coffee. This is also a great technique when you go to networking events. Rather than starting a long conversation, introduce yourself and ask for a business card to send them a coffee invitation. It much easier to have one on one conversations than talking with a room full of people.
3 - Make friends, not customers. Building relationships is not advertising, it's making a new connection for your business. Don’t walk up to someone and start offering up all your services and tell them why they should pick you. Not only is that uncomfortable for you, it’s also uncomfortable to them.
4 - Start a meetup or community for specific people with a common goal. When I first moved to Columbus, I didn’t know anyone or where to even start. I ended up getting to know a few people, then asked all those people to a meetup at a bar. I went from knowing 7 to 14 people in a night. I did that every quarter for 2 years and now have a business network of over 100 people that I genuinely like.
5 - When you do go to events, don't try to meet everyone, have a goal of meeting just one person. Don’t take 50 business cards, take 2. It will take a lot of pressure off you, and also make you look pretty cool when you say you just gave out your last card.
6 - Set a goal or make it a personal project to meet 1 person every week or two depending on your schedule. If everyone has 3 - 5 close business friends, meeting 4 people could grow your network by 12 - 20 people in a single month. To do this, I simply send an email to people when they come up in talks with someone else, or If i read something about them. I tell them my goal and that I’d love to get coffee if they’re interested. More often than not, people say yes, but you do have to get comfortable with hearing no quite a bit.
7 - Have real conversations about something deeper than your business or industry. I personally love talking about books or talks online with people. I love sharing what I'm into and also getting recommendations of new things to watch or read. These conversations are way more meaningful to building relationships than talking about accounting software.
8 - Be honest. If you just started your business and are working out of your bedroom nights and weekends, don't be afraid if people know. Be as real as possible with people and you'll develop the kind of relationships that you need at that exact moment.
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