If you’ve ever been a member of a networking group, you know that it usually takes time before you start to get referrals.  Here are some things I learned during my time attending networking groups.

How to feel confident talking about your product

It doesn’t matter if you have had your business for 10 months or for 10 years, having to constantly talk about your products and/or services when introducing yourself to new people is a lot easier in a safe environment. At the networking group I attended, each week we would have to introduce ourselves and our products within 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Finding a way to come up with something new to say about the business, while also making sure to accurately describe what we offered, was challenging but incredibly rewarding when I was out in the real world talking to potential clients. 

How to listen to others

In networking groups specifically, it’s important to actually listen when others are talking and explaining their product. Not only will it help you understand how different people market themselves (and what ways you think are more successful than others), but you might actually end up knowing someone who you could refer to them, and they might return the favor. Regardless of how it can benefit you, you can make strong, memorable connections by actually listening when other people are talking–plus it’s just good manners!

What my business needed

Especially when you are first starting your business, it’s hard to know what you need to be successful. Maybe you think you need certain high-profile clients to get you started, or perhaps you’re unsure where to look for potential clients or what kind of price range you should be aiming for. By connecting with different individuals at networking groups, listening to their stories, and applying the knowledge they give you to your own business, you can help your business be more successful. If you are already aware of what your business needs to be successful, attending networking groups can help you feel confident asking for what you need. 

How important is it to follow-up?

Whether you’re following up about a business prospect, or simply thanking someone for their work, following up is incredibly important. Not only can it help land jobs, but it can also help individuals realize how important or helpful they were to you, securing lasting connections with people. Even if no agreement or action was talked about during your conversation, reaching out can help you stay on people’s mind, and almost everyone is happy to be appreciated.

It’s hard, but stick with it. It’s worth it!

Networking is an interesting thing. There are times when you will get immediate results, but generally speaking it takes time to get referrals, and sometimes the initial referrals don’t always pan out. Don’t give up! Focus on the good that you are accomplishing at every networking event (getting more confident describing your business, learning about how others share their business and what methods you like or don’t like), and you will realize that networking groups can be great for your business!