How To Build Your Brand Networking Locally

Building your brand through local networking can really take your business to the next level. It takes some work, but it’s calculated work so you are working smarter, not harder. The key is consistency. Here are some of the principles that have really helped me build momentum networking locally.

Have A Positive Mindset

It sounds easy, but it can be a challenge. People gravitate towards a positive energy in the room, and you want them to think of you that way. You may be familiar with the term time or energy vampire, and we probably all know people like that whether it be in our family, in our friend circles or someone we’ve done business with. This person took the last hour and only talked about themselves or their business and gave zero effort to learn about anyone else. That is not our goal. We never want to be somebody else’s vampire, energy-sucker or joy-stealer, right? We want to be an uplifter. We want to add value to everybody we meet. This can be one of the hardest things about networking. You may be showing up to the event feeling the pressure to make the sale and focusing only on your own goals, but if you let that affect your behavior, you will quickly become the least effective networker in your community. You always want to find a way to have a positive impact for the people that you are networking with.

Be Approachable

When you go to a networking event, who is typically the easiest person in the room to be approached? The person smiling, right? A smile says hey, come talk to me, I’m a happy person, I’m excited to be at this event. Try to be that happy person when you attend these events. It helps to attend events you will actually be happy attending.

Where you stand in the room is also important. Do not stand at the back of the room with your back up against the wall. Try to position yourself out in the middle of the room so you can be open to engagement with the other people there. If going to these events is uncomfortable for you, my suggestion is to bring a friend or your significant other to help you feel more relaxed.

Remember The Goal

When going to a networking event, the rookie mistake that most people make is having their goal be to try to sell something that day. That’s not effective networking. If you are going to be an excellent networker locally, you have to build it up over time. You have to build trust. When networking for your business, the goal is to hopefully one day get a sale, but you need people to like you first. You never want to give the impression that you are a pushy salesperson just ready to get the sale. When you go to a networking event, just remember that your goal most of the time should be to find three or four people that you connect with that you can have another appointment with, which could be coffee or lunch or whatever you want it to be.

Build A Trusting Relationship

How do you start building a trusting relationship with a stranger? By initiating the first step. The best networkers typically are the best conversationalists. They can quickly talk about anything. To start building that trusting relationship, you want to have your talking points prepared. I always suggest having five common-interest type things that you are passionate about. For example, I could talk about goal setting and motivational stuff at any point and any place in my life. I can also talk about sports, cars, or movies. You want to find common ground, and you need to be knowledgeable in areas other than just business that will work with a small group of people that you network with. You want to find things that pull people in to have those conversations. Now, you can’t just go out and talk about movies all night and be effective either. So, you also need to have some way that you are going to lead in at the end of the conversation to set up the next appointment. You could say, I’ve really enjoyed this conversation, we should get together sometime and have coffee, I’d love to know more about what you do for business.

Keep The Conversation Short, Meaningful, And Balanced

You have limited time at a networking event. A trap that some people fall into, especially if they are nervous to be there in the first place, is to spend all their time talking to the first person they met just because it was more comfortable than having to go approach someone new. Now the event is over and the person they spent all night talking to out of convenience may not even be someone interested in anything they wanted to do. There is only a 50/50 shot of anything coming from that conversation. So you want to make sure that you keep the conversation short and meaningful. Once you start to feel a good connection, ask to schedule the appointment to continue the conversation. Again, your first initial goal for networking is to get to the next step where it’s one-on-one so you can build a relationship with that person.

Another important aspect of networking is making sure the conversation is balanced. People can tell when you are just waiting for them to pause so you can start telling them about your business out of nowhere because it doesn’t have anything to do with what they just said. The best networkers are not the best talkers, they are the best listeners. And you want to listen with genuine interest so you can contribute to the conversation and keep it flowing naturally.

Keep Your Calendar Full And Consistent

To become branded in your in your community, you need consistency and momentum. I want you to think about your calendar right now. What events do you already have scheduled where you know for sure you are getting out and meeting new people? This could be whatever works for you as long as you are hitting your prospecting goal.

A big mistake that people make is not committing to attend an event and blocking out that time because they do not know what their top way to meet new people is. Personally, I like to network, and I have these events cemented on my calendar. I do not just go to them one time, I build around them. I would never set an appointment on any of those dates because I know my highest return on investment is meeting new people. A business professional should already have their calendar booked out. Other mistakes people make are letting the prospect determine when to meet and only casually attending events. Always honor your number one opportunity to meet new people.

Another way to build that consistency when you start building your calendar is having your go-to spots for your follow-up appointments. I try to always control where the coffee or lunch is going to be, and I only choose local small businesses. It is another chance to prospect and network locally, and the familiarity will help you feel much more comfortable during your one-on-ones.

Where To Find Events

Google is your best friend when it comes to finding events. You want to look for events that meet every week or every month and lock that event into your calendar. Examples of these types of events are BNI groups, Chambers of Commerce, Mastermind groups, etc. It is also important to try to attend some specialty social events where people who have the same interests will be gathered together. Everyone at these types of events will be happy to be there, will be more likely to have things in common, and will be more interested in having those conversations. Examples of these types of events are trivia nights, bowling leagues, book clubs, fitness groups, etc.

The person that is integrated the most in their community talks to the most people, and the best networker is always trying to find a way to make a positive impact on others. If you stay consistent, you will start building the momentum you need in order to start seeing it pay off. The best part is it does not have to feel like work if you learn how to enjoy it and make it part of your daily routine.

For More on Networking Locally, check out the mastermind.

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