6 Networking Tips for Professional Plantscapers
Networking events can feel intimidating. Business owners feel pressure to meet new business contacts and potential clients, but have difficulty turning contacts into valuable business relationships.
Keep these 6 tips in mind and networking events can be an effective way to help your interiorscape business grow.
Don’t Lose Track of Goals
When you go to a networking event, remember what you are there to do. Ivan Misner, the founder and chairman of a professional business networking organization called BNI, reminds us that the goal of attending networking events is, “to develop a professional rapport with individuals that will deepen over time into a trusting relationship that will eventually lead to a mutually beneficial and continuing exchange of referrals.” You don’t have to make a sale at networking events. In fact you probably shouldn’t try to make a sale at a networking event. You are making initial contacts so you can follow up and form business partnerships or client relationships later.
Quality Trumps quantity
Don’t feel pressure to meet a hundred new people at a networking event. Spend time getting to know a few contacts. After you are done with a conversation you may want to write a few notes on the back of their business card. Then you can reference your conversation when you make a follow up call.
While you don’t need to scurry around making hundreds of contacts, don’t let one contact dominate your time either. You may find someone you feel comfortable with or that just enjoys talking. If you find the conversation distracting you from meeting more people, kindly excuse yourself.
Ask open ended questions that will help you learn about a contact’s business. Actively listen and show your new contact that you are genuinely interested in what they do. Don’t think about what you can get from a contact, but what you can give to help a contact out. This attitude will generate quality long term relationships.
Plantscapers are typically running local operations, so you need to make local contacts. Discover what kind of networking events will develop local relationships. There are some local events you may not have considered for networking: chamber of commerce meetings, local charity organizations, local fundraisers, and city events. Don’t over-involve yourself as effective networking takes time and effort. Only join organizations that have genuinely captured your interest. The relationships that you build while involved in these types of local activities can lead to advantageous business partnerships and client contacts.
You don’t want to attend events that are counterproductive or costly. If you are asked to pay for an event, know what you are paying for. You can expect to pay fees for meals, event speakers, materials, or an upscale venue. However, networking events shouldn’t consume a huge percent of your budget. You can use Twitter or other social media platforms to network for free. Beware of networking events that appear to be too limited. Meeting a range of different kinds of people is an important part of networking.
Conducting a follow up is the key to making your networking count. Good business relationships don’t form by passing off a business card. Remember the notes you wrote on the back of the business card? Now is the time to use them. Call your contacts, remind them who you are, and what you talked about at your networking event. Determine what seems like the appropriate next step for the relationship. Suggest a meeting for coffee or perhaps it is more appropriate to offer to email some information about your business. Make this call within one or two weeks of the event. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to reconnect.
When you are purposeful about your networking, you can develop quality relationships that will result in interiorscape sales. Networking is a valuable way to build your business and establish an excellent reputation as an interiorscaper. What are your favorite networking tips?
Kwaitkowski, Angel. “Two Quick Fixes to avoid Bad Networking Events.” deskmag.
Misner, Ivan. “3 Ways to Get More Business at Networking Events” Entrepreneur.
Pointek, Katelyn. “10 ways to find small business networking events” Turbine.