When networking, it is important to understand people and your own communications style. In the Customer Service segment of this course we covered the four personality types. It is just as relevant, and even critical, in your networking. So, keep it in mind when you are meeting people for the first time at events. Watch and listen for the ques into what personality type is in front of so you respond and speak appropriately. Here is a short excerpt as a reminder: We can look at ‘people’ in four ways through the use of color. Red, for example, is a dominant color and exhibits competitiveness and drive. Blue tends to influence our mood or behavior. Green exhibits diplomacy and dependability. Yellow, a sign of warmth, is more connected and reserved, yet consistent. You will want to review the entire section and perhaps do further study prior to your next event.
Types of Networking Events
Friendship/Family Reunions – wait to offer a card, let this happen naturally as the conversation leads. Networking here should be subtle and non-invasive. This type of networking is usually very casual. We also call it the “nooks and crannies” of opportunity. If someone looks like they need a manicurist or stylist do not offer your services. It could come off as arrogant an insulting.
Education – educational events are good places to network with colleagues. It is good to keep in touch with like-minded professionals. Always try to meet a few folks who are advanced in the business, a little behind you and about equal with you. It will help in your goal planning, having a mentor, having someone to grow with and lastly someone you can help nurture along.
Career Building/Sells – similar to the verbiage of the education setting for networking, this is where you want to shine. It may be an industry event or national class. Yes, plan to visit another state or region to meet more people in your industry. Just remember to build a relationship first. Wait to be invited to the next step: make a sale; send your resume, etc.
Why do we network? Planning: stay relevant, confident, grow (personally, professionally and profitably). You must first understand what the event is for and what will be your purpose for attending. Is it a meetup of like-minded people? An industry show and exhibit? A training event? The local chamber afterhours?
How do we network? This is one of the most important aspects of networking. It is not a race to see how many people you can tell your story to nor to collect the most business cards. It is about listening. Listening to the other person’s story. They may just tell you what they need. And even though you may be able to meet their need, that moment is not the time to make sales pitch. Tell them how fascinating their story is, and you’d like to learn more. Ask for a coffee meeting or for a visit during their downtime. Or perhaps a simple phone call to take the discussion to the next level. Ask if they want to “exchange business cards”. Note: If you take the card, use it. More on that later.
Presentation and planning
Appearance – always look stunning, as if you were the “one” everybody came to meet.
Approach – open with a light greeting and small talk. A complement is always welcome. It can start a good conversation. If it is someone you always wanted to meet, you could do your opening and then say something like, and “I saw your article in the Style Magazine and wanted to let you know how it resonated with me. Especially the part about _______.” That would deepen the conversation and you could ask their opinion about the subject to get them talking about themselves and what they do even more. Don’t linger too long as that person is there to meet others as well.
Speech – just be yourself; not authoritative or silly. Just your professional self, others have come to know and love.
Handouts – business card, flyer, promotional item (pen, emery board, lotion, lip balm, lens cleaner, etc.)
Now you are ready for your next (or first) event or casual gathering. In closing what should you expect? Expectations of networking: to connect with industry leaders, gain a certain number of prospective clients, grow your contact base or meet new friends in the industry. Are you prepared? Preparation for networking – order business cards, get your hair styled, cut or fresh shave and nails manicured, wardrobe cleaned, coordinate colors, shoes, tote, etc. Remember this is part your presentation.
What’s next? When it is all over organize your thoughts, reflecting on the event and what you learned. Reflect on the people you met and review and organize the business cards you have collected. Remember your purpose for Networking. Be sure to have a plan for contacting the new members of your network. Your initial plan should include a schedule and what method of contact you will use. Will it be a video, phone call, text, email, postcard, product sample? The sooner you follow up the better chance you have of your new contact remembering who you are. Just remember this: The fortune is in the (your) follow up!
One final thought on networking. Join a few online and in-person meet-up groups within your area of expertise. You might also consider hosting your own networking event within your salon or other location. We go into events in detail in the Marketing segment. It is important to stay in touch with your peers and folks who are on a similar path as you. We learn from one another. You might find a business partner or investor from these types of groups. It can also be a great place to find a coach or mentor who knows and understands your business.