My Networking Top 5 By Kelly Suit


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FLASHBACK ARTICLE FROM DECEMBER 2010
Happy New Year and a belated Merry Christmas! For those of you who read my article last month, I hope you have made your New Year’s resolution for your business to begin blogging. I truly believe that if you are consistent with it, this year will be much more profitable than 2009.
My focus for this year (which I mentioned in my November article) for my DJ business is strengthening my brand. Don’t get me wrong, I want to see increased profits, content employees, and thrilled clients, but I believe that all of those things can be helped with a more recognizable brand.
All of my efforts, which I will share with you over this series of articles, are aimed at making us the top-of-mind selection for my clients, prospects, and for other vendors.
Blogging works to touch all three categories, but, especially well for vendors if you worked with them recently. Instead of sending them a thank you card (which is a nice idea as well), you can send them photos and or videos reminding them how great it was working with you. You can link from your blog to their blog or website which does two positive things for you; one it sends your prospects to their sites which every vendor appreciates, and two it increases your link popularity which is something that search engines use in deciding how high to rank your listing. Don’t underestimate the power of doing for others! Zig Zigler said, “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help other people get what they want.”
I’ll touch on websites in a future article, but in this article, I want to spend talking about networking. Unlike blogging which can be used for increasing your brand with both vendors, prospects, and clients, networking is only aimed at one thing … building relationships with other vendors. I have been to many networking events and I see people make the same mistakes repeatedly. So I’m going to list my top 5 things of what not to do at networking events:
1. Don’t come with your hand out! Too many people go to networking events expecting to get qualified leads or expecting that a 5-minute conversation will get other vendors to send their clients and prospects your way. This never works! The reason it doesn’t work is that people do business with those that they like and trust. You might be very charming, but no one is going to trust you with something as valuable as their clients after a 5-minute conversation. It takes time to build trust which requires building a relationship. Be willing to offer help or do something for others. Photographers and videographers are excellent at this! I see them all the time willing to take photos or create promo pieces (free of charge) for other vendors. If someone does something for you, there is an unspoken understanding that the favor will be returned at some point. As a DJ, don’t you have something that you could do for other wedding vendors that would work towards building a relationship?
2. Don’t forget that you are netWORKING, not just having a night out! I’ve seen other vendors do things like getting drunk and hanging out with their friends, not the least bit concerned about trying to build new relationships. Make yourself a goal before going into a networking situation. My goal is to have a real conversation with at least 3 people I don’t know, and of course to get their business cards, as well as to reconnect with at least 5 people that I already know. If you are going to take time away from your family and personal pursuits for these events, shouldn’t there be a reward for your actions? These rewards can be down the road, but if all you get is a couple of drinks and hang out with people that you already know, what are you accomplishing?
3. Dress well! You don’t have to come dressed in a suit (although that is how I go to these events), but look at these events like a business meeting, not a fun evening out (unless that is the focus of the networking meeting, but I usually don’t go to those events). You want to portray your business as competent, professional, and successful. Your appearance has an impact! People will judge you based on how you present yourself. Since your goal is to make the best impression possible, maybe wearing a suit isn’t such a bad idea.
4. Don’t forget your business cards! Imagine you’ve just had this great conversation with a new venue sales manager. At the end of the conversation, they ask you for your card and you don’t have one, what does this say to that person? I can tell you that to me it says that you are unprepared and someone that doesn’t focus on details. Is this someone that you’d want to do business with?
5. Be positive and always smile! Nobody wants to hear about how terrible things are for you and how your business is suffering from the current economy. Nobody wants to hear that your car broke down and you had to borrow money from your family to get it fixed. And no one wants to hear that you are having a crappy day. The reason for this is because they have their own problems and don’t need to hear about yours! Be the person in the room that people look forward to seeing. Be the encourager and the ray of light in someone else’s day.
Here is a bonus #6 … Never (and I mean never) say anything negative about another vendor. You don’t know who has alliances with other vendors and besides if you are willing to talk bad about someone, what would stop you from talking bad about them? If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything. It’s better to be indifferent than to be negative.
Kelly Suit can be reached at kellysuit@discjockeynews.com.


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