When business is slow, the first thing anyone will tell you to do is go networking, as if it’s something fun that everyone enjoys. Whenever I hear people talking about networking like a fun event, I think of it as trick or treating, but instead of good candy, all you get are regular-sized Bit O’Honeys. I mean look at this picture. I searched for images of people networking, and every search came back with groups standing around smiling, having a great time while networking. One thing all of us know about networking is that almost no one likes to do it. So, what should you do if you don’t love, or even like, putting yourself out there in networking situations?
While you’re getting psyched up to go out networking, realize that nearly everyone else feels the same way about meeting new people and plugging them into their personal networks. It can be comforting to know that you’re not on your own and it can make networking a little easier. Now that you know no one likes networking, what can you do about it?
Try to make one-on-one connections while you’re networking. It’s difficult to walk up to an entire group and start talking. (No matter how much you think you look like the Fonz.) Scan the room for someone whom you already know. If you find a familiar face try to strike up a conversation with him. If he’s participating in a group, there’s nothing wrong with tapping him on the shoulder, so he sees you (just not if he’s the one talking). That can be an excellent way to join in a conversation and to be introduced to the people there.
If you don’t see anyone you know, look for someone who isn’t participating in a group or is talking to one or two other people. This is where remembering that everyone is networking (and uncomfortable) comes in handy. You’re well within your rights to walk up and introduce yourself and to talk about what you do.
Your Elevator Pitch
Whether you’re networking at a local small business event or an MLS or board event, have your personal elevator pitch ready. This is a 60 – 90-second mission statement. It helps whomever you’re talking to understand who you are and what makes you different. Check out the sidebar for some questions to help you think of summary of you and your business.
When you’re armed with a couple of talking points, the rest is up to you. Be confident in who you are and networking will become more natural. Remember, practice makes perfect, so the more you do, the more comfortable you’ll be.
And don’t forget your business cards. Even with electronics, the traditional business card is a good way for your networking contacts to remember what you talked about. If you don’t have your own business cards, you can have some created. Services like Vistaprint (vistaprint.com) offer 500 cards for $9.99, and a simple online search will show you other options. They’ll even help you design your cards.
As an appraiser, you may need to visit offices of attorneys, developers, and home builders. This kind of visit can be very intimidating. Before you go knocking, make contact, either by email or phone, so they’re expecting you. The advantage to using email is that you can include your elevator pitch and some examples of your work, depending on the type of work you’re after.
We’ll cover office visits in another post on networking because there are some tips specific to visiting offices. In the meantime, another thing you can do while your business is slow is to incorporate some new technology. If you haven’t tried DataMaster, now’s the time. Get your 14-day free trial by clicking here.