Lately, I have had the opportunity to start networking again after a long hiatus. I thought I would share some of the things I have had the opportunity to be reminded of through this process.
- Be Prompt
Respect other people’s time. When we are late, it shows up as disrespect of others. I know you have heard the saying, “How you do anything is how you do everything.” Being really transparent, at one point in life I had to ask myself, why am I always late to everything? I think in some ways we are afraid of either success or failure, so we do what we can to self-sabotage. But that is another topic for another day! When we are on time with time to spare, our stress levels go way down and we are respected as professionals.
Another issue in being prompt is following up with people immediately. When I have been in the market for certain services, I have noticed with myself that in many cases, I have patronized the business owner who has followed up with me promptly before anyone else could call. I have noticed also when the shoe has been on the other foot as a business owner, when I have been slow to follow up, the business is gone. So, I have made it my business to follow up promptly, even if the person who inquired does not respond, I have done my part, and the ball is no longer in my court.
- Be Professional
There are certain things we should and should not do as professionals. We don’t need to take every phone call or text while in meetings, barring emergencies or calls that we know we absolutely have to take. We should do what we can to keep ourselves present. It is so difficult in this day to do this with the multitude of distractions available, namely the phone, but when we are present, we are able to get the most out of a situation, as opposed to bits and pieces! I was at a Lunch and Learn recently and while everyone was talking to each other, there was a man on his cellphone talking quite loudly. Without turning around, I was trying to figure out why I was just hearing one part of the conversation. Then it dawned on me that he is on the phone – not only that – why am I hearing all of your conversation in a public place? At any rate, let’s be present.
Another thing that I have been reminded of is to do what you say you are going to do. As a business owner, people ask me for quotes, or ask me to get in contact with them all the time. And I have noticed that a lot of people will waste your time getting quotes, and they know they are not ready or able to buy. But guess what? If I promised the person that I would get back to them within a certain time frame, I need to do that, and my word needs to be my bond, regardless of what they do. We just have to do it in such a way that we are not spending a lot of time on tire-kickers!
- Be Prepared
Preparation is essential. When you are going to a meeting, it is good to know something about that client or prospective customer. With the amount of information on the internet about people and companies, there really is no reason not to have done your homework or research about the client or the company and not to be able to speak intelligently or ask intelligent questions regarding their business. There is always going to be some question out of left field, but I have learned the more prepared I am to go into a meeting, the less the left field questions throws me off. Also, if showing products, the more I know about the products I am showing, the more confident I will feel when presenting.
- Be Presentable
Ladies, have you ever been in a rush and gone to a meeting or had to go out of the house and your nail polish is chipped or you have a run in your stocking? It is not the worst thing that can happen in life, but it does not feel good. On the contrary, when your hair is together, your shoes are shiny, your outfit is cute, and you know you look good, your confidence level soars. The same goes for men as well. Not only that, whether good or bad, our society is a looks-based society and first impressions count. We don’t have to be the prettiest or the most handsome to succeed, but being neat and kempt goes a long way in how we present ourselves to others and in how we feel about ourselves.
- Be Prayerful
Being prayerful should really be first on the list, but I wanted to save the best for last. As a Christian business owner, I am beginning to understand the importance of praying about EVERYTHING! Praying about meetings, praying about divine connections, praying about maintaining integrity in business and making a profit at the same time, praying for protection and safety on the way to and from and during meetings. I know this is a business article, so I will not preach to you, but I would like to leave you with this Scripture to encourage and remind us all, “In all thy ways, acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy path. Prov. 3:5
Blessings to you, and I wish you much success in your business endeavors!