I owe the success of my bookkeeping in Brisbane business to hard work, networking, and referrals. Business networking is not much different from personal socialising. It is trying to get out there, meet as many people as possible, and start building relationships. Just like personal socialising, business networking is all about presenting the best version of you or your business, with the goal of getting as much contacts, friends, clients, or business deals as possible. And similar to the personal level of networking, business networking requires interpersonal skills that will help you filter out bad prospects, focus on positive and productive contacts, and network more effectively.
- Always observe proper etiquette. It is hard to recover from social faux pas. Remember that you are representing your entire company. Business networking is not the place for socially risqué comments, conduct, and appearances. Learn how to properly dress and conduct on public events.
- Dress appropriately. I wear my smart casual outfits to office, Brisbane bookkeeper conferences, and office meetings with my clients. Not to weekend barbeques, or games. As a business person, consider every event, party, or meeting a chance to network, and dress appropriately.
- Listen attentively. Listen to what people are telling you. Aside from the usual remarks about the weather, freely given comments and suggestions are valuable. Use it to improve your products or services, or to sustain the conversation at the least.
- Practice your spiel, but use it sparingly. You know your company’s tagline. Also compose a concise and compact description of your company and products and services you offer. This way you won’t have to struggle finding the best words whenever you need to. Oh, and only use it to answer the question, when asked.
- Participate in meaningful conversation. Networking is not about how many hands you shook or the hellos exchanged. Don’t be the flippant type going around the room and shaking every person’s hands. Ten meaningful conversations is better and more effective networking than a hundred hands shook.
- Give whenever possible. Offer help, provide better options, send references, or donate to a good cause as much as you can. Do your duty as a good person and as an upstanding citizen. People will notice and good karma will eventually work its way back to you.
- Go prepared. Prepare for every event you will be attending. Learn about the people you will be meeting there. Know their interests, concerns, and problems. Knowing then will lead to good and meaningful conversations. This is the best way to get attention and effectively connect with people.
- Only give your card when asked. Refrain from doling out your business card as if you’re handing out flyers. Most, if not all, will only end up in the trash. Don’t push yourself forward too hard, wait for people to ask for it.
- Always ask business cards from significant contacts. Asking for business cards signify interest and wanting to be in touch. Being interested in other people will automatically keep you in their mind. They will remember you better and look out for you in the future.
- Have an interesting introduction. First impressions last. Instead of the usual smile and handshakes, opt for something more creative and remarkable. A bow, a sincere compliment or remarks to accompany the handshake is enough to make your mark.
- Don’t try to get the attention of the entire room. Do not let your eyes wander, wave to a passing acquaintance while in a conversation, or try to maintain more than one conversation. Cutting off a person mid-sentence in order to excuse yourself is rude. Focus on the person, and avoid rushing to move on to the next person.
- Be polite and conversant. Participate in the conversation. Avoid the “of course,” “that’s amazing,” “you’re right” and other one liner remarks. Comment intelligently and ask open-ended questions. Never be rude, and avoid pursuing conflicting arguments.
- Ditch the phone. If possible, leave your phone in the car. If you can’t go without it, or is expecting an important call, have it on mute and vibrate mode. Do not check for messages, and when you have a call, politely ask to be excused and take calls outside.
- Don’t pitch too soon, or not at all. Introducing yourself and a mention of your company is enough. Do not pitch or even describe your company unless you’re pointedly asked. Say, “Hi, I’m Mark from ABC Consulting.” Do not say, Hi, I’m Mark from ABC Consulting. We offer the best consultancy services in the city.”
Business Social Networking. With people spending more and more time online, it is sensible to bring your networking to the virtual realm. Online and social media networking is becoming the more efficient and effective way of promoting your business and expanding your circle of influence.
- Create a separate business account. Never combine your business and personal interactions online. Keep family, personal relationships, strong opinions, and interactions to personal accounts. Your business accounts should be kept formal, professional, and politically-correct.
- Use a professional profile picture. Commission a professional photographer to take your professional portrait or profile picture. Do not use avatars, wacky selfies, and informal pictures.
- Reply to messages, as soon as you can. Answer queries, acknowledge comments and feedback, and address complaints within 24 hours during weekdays and on the following Monday for weekend messages.
- No spamming. Do not add acquaintances to your email and newsletter list without their express permission. Also avoid direct and unsolicited messages in all social media platforms.
- Be helpful and informative. Always help out people. Point them to the right direction if you don’t have the solution. Do not ignore people who have reached out to you.
- Always react positively, even to criticisms. Never argue with anybody on any social media platform. If you get a complaint or a criticism, promise resolution and offer to discuss the problem off the public eye. Ask for an email or offer to meet in person.
- Moderate online presence accordingly. Determine the right social media engagement ideal for your company. Too often and too much social media engagement can drive followers as much as minimal engagement or silence.
I have built my Brisbane bookkeeping business through referrals and networking. The key to effective networking, whether you’re online or in the real world, is on building real relationships. And the best way to create real and long-lasting relationships with your network and clients is by committing yourself and your company into helping them and giving them the best service or product possible.