When I am not practicing law, I am always out looking for new clients. One of the ways that I find new clients is through networking with other business owners and referral sources. The following are some tips that I have learned over the years.
1. Get Out Of The Office
Get out from behind your desk especially with Spring right around the corner. Schedule a few breakfasts, lunches and coffee appointments with prospects, current clients and possible referral sources. Let’s face it, the chances of a new client just walking into your office is zilch. Go out there and prospect.
2. Always Have Business Cards
Like you’re American Express card, don’t leave the office without them. You never know when you might meet a great contact and need to trade information. Be a professional and don’t write your name and number on a bar napkin. Going to a conference or networking event? Bring a big stack of business cards to pass around.
3. Out Of Sight, Out of Mind
Never let them forget you. Touch base with key contacts and clients at least every few months. By staying at the top of their minds, you stand a better chance that they’ll call you when they need someone with your expertise.
4. Choose Events Wisely
Too many networkers try to go to every event. That is a waste of your time. Carefully select the events that you attend so that you get a good return on your investment. If you went to an event or group a few times and saw no results, consider whether it was a good fit for who you are trying to meet. Not every networking event is for everyone. If you can, get a list of event attendees prior to the event so that you can laser focus your attention on the best connections for you.
5. Friends Do Business With Friends.
Networking is not selling, it’s connecting. Meet a contact; develop a relationship and then when you ask for business, your chances of success have increased exponentially. Its basic human nature that people prefer to work with people they like and trust. Don’t be a stranger.
6. Sincerity In Business Is Not Dead
The best way to be memorable is to show a sincere interest in the people you’re meeting. Listen to what they tell you, and ask them questions about themselves and listen. People love to talk about themselves and it’s easy for you because you do not have to think of anything to say. Also, if you have the opportunity to pay them a genuine compliment or to do them a favor, that is always appreciated and usually remembered. Offers to connect business owners with other business owners are always appreciated but only if it’s a really good connection.
7. What’s Your Name Again?
How many times have you met someone several times and you keep forgetting the person’s name? I am horrible with names and have tried to get better. There are many ways to do this but unfortunately, I am still looking for something that works for me. I have been told to develop creative techniques to remember people’s names and write details about them on their business cards after you’ve met them. This helps, at least in the short term.
8. Follow Up, Something That Few People Do
You take the time, and maybe pay money to go to an event. You meet many people and make a great impression on them and walk out with a pocket full of business cards. Do you know what most people do, they take the cards back to their office and enter the contact information into their computer; and then…nothing. No follow-up, no communication, nothing. What a waste of time. All that was accomplished was eating a nice lunch with strangers and collecting a pile of paper. Follow-up is the most crucial point of networking and surprising, almost no one does it. Set yourself apart. After an event, touch base with each person you met even if it’s just an email. Did you meet a really good connection . . . send an email and follow up with a second meeting for coffee. No one does it so set yourself apart from the others.
9. The “Ask” It Not Rude, It Is Essential
When I started practicing law 28 years ago my senior partner taught me a very valuable lesson. No one is just going to offer you business, you have to ask for it. It’s not a magic formula just one of the most overlooked and simplest tools to help you grow you business.
Final Thought: To be a great networker, all you have to do is leave your office and present yourself to the world and follow-up. Attend events; write articles (like this one) teach others or blog about your business interests. When you add value to someone’s personal or professional life, you will be remembered.
If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 312.229.1675.
Kindwald Law Offices, P.C., 105 W. Madison St. – Ste. 1800, Chicago, IL