Networking is an important part of raising awareness for your business, finding partnerships, and winning over potential customers.
A strong network can be the catalyst that launches you to the next level of business success. It will help you accomplish a lot more than you can by yourself, find solutions to seemingly impossible problems and get valuable customer recommendations that will grow your business.
Through creating strong networks, entrepreneurs meet valuable mentors, investors, clients, distributors and experts in their industry.
If you’re not assertive about meeting people, you miss out on business opportunities. Alternatively, if you’re too aggressive, you’re annoying instead of appealing.
These five networking tips will help you build relationships without creating baggage that will make you break the ice.
1. Establish Your Networking Goals
You must begin by considering the end result, just like with any project. Your time spent making new relationships will be used more effectively if you have established your professional networking goals.
Additionally, it will aid in developing your business goals or in locating the connections who are most likely to serve as mentors.
Start by doing some research to identify solid possibilities for new connections. Many networking events publish a guest list, so head to LinkedIn and find the profiles of some confirmed attendees. This will tell you a lot about their background and whether or not their expertise can be helpful.
Thereafter, Set some networking goals to expand your business network. During the meetup, for instance, make it your mission to make connections with at least five new individuals and gather their business cards. To leave a lasting impression on new contacts, design a digital business card to share with them.
Check to see if you achieved your objectives by reviewing your performance after the event. If not, don’t worry, just try again later. If you continue in this manner, your network will grow.
2. Attend Events
Attending a specialized networking event is a surefire way to network if you don’t know where to start and don’t have many connections in your sector or town yet. These activities will probably be hosted by your local chamber of commerce, other local business clubs, and associations.
If there is a professional associated with your field in your area, that can be another great way to discover networking events. Finally, look for local business Slack communities or groups on Facebook, as many of them organize in-person meetups as well.
3. Develop Your Skills
Another excellent way to meet other entrepreneurs is through participating in professional development. These gatherings offer the chance to develop new skills, network, and meet others in your industry.
Enhancing your abilities might also aid in attracting possible mentors. Someone who is willing to learn and progress is more likely to attract a mentor. Whether you learn how to generate W-2 forms or get trained up in a new software program, it never hurts to have a strong skill set to market yourself with.
4. Prepare Before Hand
You don’t need to prepare as thoroughly as you would for a job interview because networking gatherings are frequently informal. You can still benefit more from the event if you do a little prepping ahead of time. Making a succinct, entertaining, and informative personal introduction is one approach to do this.
By practicing how you’ll introduce yourself and your business to new people, you’ll likely feel more confident. Get business cards printed to make it easy to share your contact info.
5. Networking Is About Giving And Taking
Always keep in mind that professional relationships should be mutually beneficial when networking, as opposed to thinking about what you can gain from the experience. People will value you more as you provide more assistance and establish yourself as a resource.
Think about your skills and existing connections, and share them with others when you have the opportunity.
6. Stay In Touch After A Networking Event
Your networking efforts will be more successful if you can make a lasting impression on individuals because we are all busy and overloaded with information. After the networking event, get in touch with your connections to let them know what you’re working on and to continue the conversation.
You can do this by posting on social media, blogging, and sending emails between networking events.
7. Be Purposeful In Your Efforts To Network
The best networking chances may occasionally lie just a little outside your comfort zone. Find out how you can start communicating with the people you want to connect with and the goals you have for yourself. This may mean reaching out personally on LinkedIn, or approaching them at an event you might not otherwise attend.
8. Keep An Eye Out For Networking Opportunities After Work
Outside of gatherings where networking is the main focus, you can meet some incredible people. Engage in discussion in various social settings you encounter, such interest or athletic clubs. Where such relationships might take you is always a mystery.
9. Ease The Tension With Icebreakers
Even seasoned networkers find it intimidating to start a discussion with someone new, but bear in mind that almost everyone values a compliment or the chance to discuss themselves or a common interest. The next time you’re networking, take advantage of this by making a light-hearted, suitable comment.
Ask them about how they got started in their field, bring up a subject that may be a shared interest, or discuss the latest must-read business book.
10. Be Polite And Respectful
If you treat individuals disrespectfully, word will spread quickly in the smaller professional circles than you might imagine. With everyone you come into contact with, make sure you’re kind, kind, and professional. Even if you don’t think the relationships will help you achieve your business objectives, it’s a good idea to keep in mind that others will frequently judge you by the reputation you have built.
11. Make Quality Connections
It’s simple in today’s digital world to focus too much on measurable measures like your LinkedIn connections or number of followers. Focus on creating meaningful, lasting connections with people who will be valuable to you as an entrepreneur instead of becoming sidetracked by how large your network is.