Networking is a very effective marketing strategy for small business owners (if done right). Approached with thought, preparation and the right attitude, meet the right people and create lasting business relationships. Networking success!
1. It’s called netWORKing for a reason
Be clear why you’re attending
Good networking events create meaningful conversations and worthwhile relationships. Choose your events wisely, so you’re talking to the right crowd
2. Make it easy
Make it easy for people to remember you. Take plenty of business cards which have all your contact details, and which describe succinctly what you do and who you work with. Make sure all your social media profiles are up to date. People will often check you out after the event.
3. Ask questions. Then listen
Become a connector
Networking is not about selling. Listen and learn. Find out what others do. Help them to understand what your business has to offer.
4. Give before you receive
Become known as a great resource. Good networking is mutually beneficial, but it’s better to err on the side of giving than receiving.
Prepare and perfect your networking pitch
When someone asks “What do you do” be ready to impress with a clear, concise explanation. Describe who you help, what problems you solve, and your solution. In 30 seconds
6. Quality, not quantity
Use your time at the event wisely
Aim for worthwhile conversations with the right people. Making 2 or 3 relevant connections is more useful than 20 superficial ones. And you don’t win by collecting the most business cards
7. Followup is everything
It takes multiple connections to build a real relationship
Meeting at a networking event is just a first impression. Reconnecting after the event is where the payoff starts. Say thanks by email (or a thank you card) within 48 hours, and explain why you’re interested in staying reconnected
Understand why you’re having a coffee meeting
If you chose to have coffee later, do it with a purpose, and be clear on what the potential outcome might be. Otherwise you’re supporting your local café, but not your own business.
Networking is a skill that can be learned
The better prepared and the more you do it, the easier it gets, and the more skillful you’ll become. Be patient and persistent.
10. Be yourself
Smile! And bring some energy to the room
Be genuine, and don’t be afraid to share personal experiences or stories. Let the real you show up.