Networking is one of the modern business’s best tool when it comes to promoting your business and increasing interest in your product or service, but it’s not easy.

There are many different types of networking meetings and approaches out there – its certainly not one size fits all.

Each person is different when it comes to communicating with people on this level, so its good to find out exactly how networking can fit around your business type and model – not the other way around.

Here is what to do and what not to do when it comes to networking.

Do: Be Confident

If you’re pitching your business to somebody, 90% of how you come across is going to be through your tone and body language. This means it is imperative that you appear confident and experienced. Potential clients who are listening to you proposition them with your business are also subconsciously taking in your demeanor and how much you believe in your own business.

If you’re confident and sound like you know what you’re talking about, they will be easier to convince. They are looking for someone who is passionate about what they’re offering.

Don’t: Be Pushy

Confidence is key, and you can’t network appropriately without it, but being so confident that you push your business onto them uncomfortably isn’t going to get you anywhere. This is one of the reasons that networking can be fickle, but exceedingly successful if done right – it’s all about balance.

Those networking conversations you’re having are mutual ground, so as much as you’re talking and getting your point across, you’ve got to take the time to listen too – chances are they’ll have some networking of their own they’re hoping to do! Showing someone that you’re just as good at listening as you are at talking will help you to gain their trust faster, making it more likely that they’ll stick around and pursue finding out a bit more about your business.

Do: Have Great Back Up

Once you’ve convinced them that they want to go one step further with you and check out what you’re offering, you’re going to want to have something to show them. Being stocked with the appealing material is your second chance at a first impression – if they’re halfway convinced by your pitch, then showing them your business material will be the make or break of which side of the fence they hop off on to.

This is where the adage “you’ve got to spend money to make money” comes in handy to remember – investing in flyers and business cards that are clean and professional will make all the difference when being presented to the potential client. The more effort you put into the branding side of your business, the better your chances of clinching the deal before the day is out. Potential clients want you to put your money where your mouth is and prove that your business is just as good as your pitch.

Don’t: Stay Quiet in Conversation

While it’s normal to experience stops and pauses within conversations from time to time, there’s nothing wrong with finding ways to bridge the gap, so that you can avoid those awkward silences. Before you start networking with those that matter, you could even create a list of open-ended questions that you can have at the back of your mind when you’re mid-convo. This way, you can avoid a silence, and you can also avoid those tough yes or no questions that kill the conversation as soon as it’s begun. The more prepared you are, the easier it will be when you’re in the moment.

Do: Be a Friend Before Anything Else

Some people won’t mind it, but most will be put off if you go in guns blazing with your pitch. There’s nothing wrong with networking for the purpose of doing so, but there’s also nothing wrong with implementing a bit of small talk in the beginning. If you’re hoping to cultivate a long term relationship with this person, then you’re going to want to get along with them, and turn the relationship into a friendship as well. Remember to ask them questions, and make them feel valued, like the situation can be mutually beneficial.

The Takeaway

Playing the game and wading through the field of potential clients isn’t the easiest job in the world, but there is indeed a right way and a wrong way to go about it. You’ve only ever got one chance with a potential client – first impressions are everything and once you’ve squandered that, there’s no going back.

So making sure that you’re more than equipped with the ideal networking strategies to handle any situation that might arise out of a networking meeting will give you a better chance of success. Keep it personable, and know your stuff.