Director of Sales and Marketing for The Retail Observer
Here are some tips that can make it easier.
Keep in mind that networking is about being yourself, building trust and relationships, getting help and helping others. Pick networking groups that focus on your industry, spark your interest and can get you to your desired goal; increased sales. I found that NKBA, ASID and NARI meetings were great places to meet designers and contractors.
At an Apartment Association trade show in Northern California, I came across a regional facilities manager looking to add laundry into a 1000 unit complex. We started a discussion regarding vented verses non- vented dryers. This conversation turned into an order for 1000 combo units delivered 2 months later and a few years later we did another order for an 800 unit complex. The client was able to add $150 per unit to the monthly rent - a profitable transaction for both of us.
Holding volunteer positions is another great way to stay visible and give back to networking groups that have helped you. If you become a resource for others in the group, people will turn to you for suggestions, ideas, names of other people and most importantly, business referrals. When you get referrals, remember to follow up with them quickly and efficiently since your actions are a reflection on those that refer you. Respect and honor this and your referrals will grow.
Networking can be as simple as a hello and a business card exchange. So, get out there, ask some questions, meet some people and have some fun.