Part one of a two-part series by Carmel Murphy on the importance of effective networking for building yourself and your business.
Kiwis enjoy doing business with people they know, like and trust.
My passion is to support people to create meaningful and authentic relationships via networking forums and training opportunities. To provide the tools to build rapport and connect meaningfully on a personal level before selling a product or service.
So, a key question to ask yourself is, on a scale of one to ten, “How well do I currently do at initiating and bringing in business?” Don’t despair if your score is low!
More than most, I understand the difficulty of getting yourself across well in conversation. Just six years ago I was terrified of meeting new people. I would quiver, shake, sweat, go blank, stumble over words, and sometimes not even sleep.
I knew that in order to start my own business, I needed to learn how to speak to people clearly and promote myself well. That started a journey over 12 months of attending many networking business events and writing myself a textbook along the way about what worked effectively. I now have a thriving business, helping individuals learn how to sell the best version of themselves through networking.
My most important learning over the years has been that the person always comes before the product or service.
My workshops include topics such as ‘Building Brand YOU in the Community’, ‘Selling The Brand Without Opening Your Mouth’, ‘Putting Your Best Foot Forward’ (presentation skills) and ‘Planning Your Networking Calendar’. A key part of these workshops is sharing my many experiences and insights over the years – the highs and the lows, the triumphs and the humiliations – that shaped the person I am today and that hopefully will positively influence others’ networking experiences. So let’s begin.
What NOT to do at a networking event:
1. Don’t prejudge people by their title/role within the business.
I recently met a man at an event whose title on his business card meant he worked on a machine at a factory. After a few minutes in conversation, I realised he was the owner of the business and was once the GM. He no longer wanted the huge responsibility of running the business day to day (partially retired) but still wanted to be part of the team. He had a wealth of information and 30 years experience in the industry (a leader in the field). Unfortunately, people at the same event missed a beautiful opportunity to learn and interact with a pioneer because they assumed he was not an influential person or decision-maker based on the information on his card. The lesson here – don’t underestimate who you are talking to.
2. Don’t talk work
Networking is about people and small talk, not in-depth, long conversation. If we immediately sell a product or service instead of connecting first, we miss the opportunity to learn about a person’s interests and hobbies. We need this information to both connect and understand the client as well as undertake an appropriate needs analysis. Additionally, we don’t want to be boxed or put in a category of ‘I already know what you do’, or, ‘I already know someone who does that’.
3. Don’t work the room
People, unfortunately, make the mistake of thinking they need to meet every single person in a room. You are going to be far more effective having eight to ten five-minute conversations over the space of two hours and can expect three to five leads from that.