5 Tips for Better Networking

Are you an entrepreneur? Do you currently have your own business? What are you doing to generate extra leads? Advertising, social media, email marketing? Is it working?

Do you actually get out from behind your computer and meet people face to face? If not, you should. Networking is such an important and relatively inexpensive way to meet potential clients. People want to do business with those they like and trust and seeing you in person being passionate about your business will eventually bring opportunity and new leads and referrals. So what are you waiting for?

5 Tips for Better Networking

How do I know what networking organization is right for me?

Depending on your business, chances are there is a networking organization that is a good fit for you. Research what is in your area, attend some local meetings to get a feel of the crowd, and find ones that you can commit to financially and with a schedule that works for you. So many people make the mistake of joining a group and then never showing up again. You will not get business if you don’t commit to go. From women’s groups, to your local chamber of commerce to industry specific groups, ask other colleagues what their favorites are and do some research. Often times you can attend as someone’s guest for free.

What do I bring?

Bring your smile and lots of business cards. I can’t tell you how many people compliment me on my business cards. Invest in a killer business card. Other than your smile, it is the first thing people will look at and remember. If you have a beautiful custom card, they will comment on it. It’s a great conversation starter. I often tell my clients to make sure a photo is on the card,. The big networkers attend many meetings and often have hundreds of these cards on their desk. Maybe they forgot your name , but they won’t forget your face or that super cool card. Add a photo and it will ensure they will remember you.

What do they expect from me? 

“I don’t know anyone.” When I started networking I used to think the same thing. I don’t know a lot of people, so how can I help? When you are part of a networking organization, part of the process is providing referrals. You are going to refer people you know and trust, right? Well when you become someone people know and trust, they will begin to refer you, too. Maybe your cousin needs the accountant you just met, or the real estate agent you spoke to would be a perfect fit for your friend who is looking to sell her home. You know more people than you think. Be genuine and sincere and the more meetings you attend, the more people you will know and you will soon have an entire network of people to refer.

How much about my business do I talk about? What do I say when people ask me what I do?

This is the tricky part. Usually we practice what is called our elevator pitch, which is a 30 second introduction to our business. It basically sums up what we do succinctly and in a clever fashion. I’ve found that actually letting the other person talk is quite beneficial. If you go into a meeting with the mindset that you’d like to help others, instead of everyone helping you, you are actually in a better position. Those who are genuinely interested in helping others will end up getting more business because you will be perceived as someone who is helpful and not vulturous. You can spot those people from a mile away. All they want to do is hand their cards to as many people as possible and don’t spend time nurturing a relationship. Remember you don’t need to do business with everyone in the room, a few new contacts that you can click with is all you need to start generating a new lead source.

Now that I have all of these business cards, what do I do with them?

I can’t express enough how important it is to follow up after a meeting. Business isn’t going to happen because someone took your card. Business will happen as relationships form. Send an email to those people you enjoyed meeting telling them you enjoyed their company. Ask to meet them for coffee or drinks to get to know more about each other. This process is crucial to relationship building. Stronger relationships will yield more business.

Remember relationships take time and business won’t happen overnight. Get out, enjoy meeting new people and in no time you will start making some new friends and business partnerships. Just have a little patience and be genuine. Happy networking!

Veronica Yankowski

Veronica L. Yankowski is an award-winning celebrity photographer, author and photography educator. During her extensive career she has had the privilege of working with many celebrity clients such as Dina Manzo from The Real Housewives of New Jersey, Signy Coleman from The Young and the Restless, Darryl McDaniels of Run DMC, Jon Bon Jovi, and many others . Her photographs have graced the covers of magazines and last summer her boudoir photography was featured in Cosmopolitan Magazine.

Veronica is an accomplished author and her first book "Dialogue 3" was published in 2002 and showcases her photographs of people and places and the tragedy of 911. She is currently a continuing education photography teacher at Brookdale Community College instructing courses from beginner DSLR to more advanced portraiture courses and also hosts workshops around the state to amateur and hobbyist photographers.

She has been interviewed on several radio talk shows, featured on blogs and her work has been on several reality TV shows such as TLC's Four Weddings, Bravo's Cake Boss, HGTV's Dina's Party and The Real Housewives of NJ.

Veronica is currently speaking in the tri-state area on photography and how women can build their confidence in photographs. She instructs women how to pose better, and sell their brand with a perfect head shot.

Since beginning her professional career in 1996 as a photojournalist, Veronica has won many awards for her portraiture work. She worked for some of the top media outlets in the tri-state area such as The Star Ledger, The New York Times and the Associated Press.