Business Networking Groups & Events are more popular than ever right now. As a professional of any business or service, it is so important to be attending networking events. Whenever I discuss this topic with fellow business professionals, I generally see the nod of consensus that says “yes, I agree”. Unfortunately, not many of those nodding are also attending those networking events. Why? Take out a piece of paper, and I’m sure we could each make a list of excuses, aka “reasons” why we don’t.

Networking and the growth of your business are almost always paired in a direct correlation to one another. I say almost always, because the manner in which you attend and get involved is what makes the difference. I have often run across individuals that have told me that they “just don’t get Networking” or that “networking just is a waste of time” for them. (Perhaps you’re one of them?) Here are my main-stay questions that have to be asked in turn:

Are you running around collecting business cards only quickly add them to your mass emailing system and then straight into your junk drawer OR are you taking the time to write notes about the conversations you had with the potential contacts you made and then following up with a personal email, letter or phone call?
Are you taking the time to meet face to face with the contacts you make?
Are you showing up and getting involved in the party or do you bee line to the bar and stand in corner waiting for someone to come talk to you and really wishing you had just gone straight home?

The “bottom line” to networking is this: Personal follow up is crucial to making networking work and turn into revenue. Taking an hour or two each week to meet with the people you met at an event could turn into countless business and a fantastic relationship down the road, but you’ll only reach that point if you’re willing to do what it takes. Sometimes it may mean an extra hour in the morning or evening devoted to finding the right events for your industry, but they do exist, and they do work if utilized efficiently. If you feel intimidated by a crowd- fake it! No one but you knows if you’re nervous so just “fake it ’till you make it” and eventually speaking with strangers will become a breeze.

So, here is my simplified version of networking 101:

Be personable, not annoying.
Be a person, not a template.
Be more interested, than just interesting. After all, lets face it; some of us just aren’t talkative or interesting people. HOWEVER, what we DO might be interesting and important to someone who needs your services if you just take the time to listen to their individual needs.

The quote “Wherever you are, there you are,” carries over every part of life. So if you decide to go to a Networking event, BE THERE! That means get out to your meetings, events, and workshops with 110% energy, enthusiasm and ready to rock it. Successful professionals everywhere are waiting to meet you!

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