A lot of people shy away in embarrassment when the notion of ‘networking’ is mentioned, but it is a really useful tool for any start-up business owner.
Business networking is a valuable way to grow your business connections and it provides an opportunity to learn from other’s success for your own personal development. It can also be a way of attaining new clientele and can encourage people to start talking about your business.
Some may consider meeting people in person old-fashioned but even in the digital age, meeting face-to-face has the advantage of helping you connect with people in a much deeper way that isn’t possible from a distance.
If you’re feeling a bit nervous about networking, here are some tips to help you get the foot in the door:
Tip One: Pre-prepare Your ‘Pitch’
It’s always useful to have a mini ‘pitch’ prepared before a networking event, so you can communicate your message effectively and avoid the dreaded ‘um’. It can really improve your confidence when you know your message is clear and understood.
This should roughly consist of an opening introduction line stating your name, your business and what you do. Then you can go into further detail about where you work and who your clients are.
This shouldn’t be a long ramble of your life story, but more a quick concise snapshot which will invite questions about your business.
Tip Two: Listen
Everyone loves a talker, but not as much as they love a good listener. When talking to another business professional, ask the question and then listen to the answer given!
One common mistake that networkers make is talking too much about their business, their goals and aspirations and not listening to other people’s opinions and advice. Don’t let this be your downfall, you can learn a lot from critique and opinion.
Tip Three: Remember to Smile!
This is your time to shine, and we mean that in the literal sense – when you walk into a room of business professionals make sure that you stand out. You can never go far wrong with a smile on your face, dress sharp, remember eye contact is essential and a firm handshake always helps.
Tip Four: Carry your Business Cards
They say it’s always the little things that count. Having a business card shows that extra level of effort and it’s a handy way to get your name out. As well as this, always have a means of note taking with you, whether that’s an old-school notepad and pen or an electronic device.
Make a habit of collecting other’s business cards for future contacts.
Tip Five: Remember to Log Your Contacts and Have a Follow-Up Conversation
It’s useful to have a generic email/message to send out to all these new-found contacts after the networking has finished. By contacting them first you’ve made the initial approach and they have an easy method of contacting you.
This message can act as a reminder that you’re out there and interested in holding a business relationship of some sort.
Networking can really benefit your own personal confidence and learning as well as improve business prospects. Put on a brave face, and don’t forget to smile!
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