Sometimes there is no better way to promote your business than the old-school method of face-to-face networking. Networking is not just showing up to events, it’s talking to and connecting with people, sharing experiences and building relationships.
Seven Tips To Help You Maximize Your Networking
1| Change Your Mindset
Don’t go to a networking event with the intention of getting business right away. Go with the intention of helping your new contacts solve their problems, whether it’s you or someone else who can help them.
You need to give before you get. Think of it as Karma in business.
2| What Events Should You Attend?
Go where your potential customers are networking. If you are targeting small business owners, participate in your local chamber of commerce or business associations.
You can also join industry specific associations such as property management, catering, insurance, etc. Other networking opportunities: Trade shows, conferences, seminars, conventions, training courses, breakfast networking clubs (BNI)to name a few.
3| Attend Events Alone
You are more likely to meet new people if you don’t go with your friends or colleagues.
4| Have Your Business Cards Handy
In the age of smartphones and social media, there are discussions on whether or not business cards are necessary. My take on it, a professional business card still has its place in business; it gives you a marketing piece to hand out to your contacts and also provides a visual reminder of your company.
Make sure to bring plenty of business cards!
5| Craft Your Elevator Pitch or Conversation Starter
Can you tell your story to a stranger in half a minute? That’s all the time you have to grab someone’s attention. Be prepared to give a 30 second answer to “What do you do?” that outlines who you are, what makes you unique, and the benefits and solutions you provide.
6| Arrive Early
It’s calmer, people are not settled into groups yet and it’s easier to approach them. Remember, most attendees came to the event to meet other people as well, don’t wait for someone to approach you first.
- Get the conversation started by introducing yourself and asking to join them.
- Give them the gift of presence by turning off your phone so as not to be distracted by text messages, emails or phone calls.
- Talk about them, their business, their hobbies, kids, etc.
- Be a good listener. It’s a great way to find out more about your new contacts and see how you can help them in the future.
- Be a social butterfly. It’s appropriate to go from one conversation to another at a networking event. Everyone is there to meet new contacts so you need to respect their time.
7| Follow Up
You attended this great networking event, made many contacts. Your work has just begun. Good networkers always follow up.
Following up with contacts helps build trust, reputation, and relationships. Here are a few ideas on how to follow up after a networking event.
- Make notes of ideas you had during and after the meeting and create a list of actions to implement.
- Get in touch within 24 hours of the event with an email or (if you want to stand out) a handwritten note.
- Make sure to reference something you discussed at the event so your contact may remember you. Ask them to coffee or lunch if you want to take it to the next level.
- Connect with a LinkedIn invitation including a note that you enjoyed meeting them at the event.
- Follow them on Twitter.
Face-to-face networking gives small business owners an opportunity to connect with colleagues on a personal level, find out what is going on in the business community, get noticed, and build trust.
Effective networking involves building a strong well-connected network and when you consistently make the effort to attend local business meetings, more people will be aware of your business and will contact you when the need arises for your products or services.
Do you know someone who needs a little help with their networking? Share this post by clicking on your favorite social media icon below. Thank you!