Networking is essential for growing a business. It strengthens connections, provides access to advice and increases business visibility. While this is common knowledge, the talent of gaining great results from networking is a little rarer.
If you are not sure where to start with networking or your skills are a little rusty, these eleven tips are sure to help you.
1: Attend Events
Attending events is a great way to meet new people and form business relationships. If you are unsure where to find them, start by asking around, looking on social media, and joining organizations. Eventually, you will be flooded with event invites, allowing you to pick and choose!
Some events are worth traveling out for, so do not dismiss an invite if it is out of state – you might just make the best business connection of your life. There are ways to travel for less, like using ParkOn to find great deals on airport parking and searching for hotel prices in advance.
2: Up Your Conversational Skills
Networking is all about conversation, so if you find yourself twiddling your thumbs in a corner or fumbling over your words, it is time to up your skills. Your goal is to speak with confidence and clarity while engaging the other person. This is not just about your speech, too – your body language also counts.
Taking public speaking classes and practicing with friends is an easy way to build your conversational skills. Sometimes it is best to simply throw yourself in there and learn as you go!
3: Always Follow Up
After getting someone’s email address, you must always follow up. It does not have to be an extensive email (in fact, you definitely should not do that) – instead, write a quick thank you email and include a call to action message to promote ongoing conversation.
4: Think About Your Presentation
It is not just your words, body language, and business card that affects the way people perceive you – it is also the way you look. Depending on the type of business you run and the kind of event you are attending, make sure you dress to impress and show up looking respectable. A couple of ways to do this include ironing your clothes, having a neat hairstyle, and getting enough sleep the night before.
5: Make Your Introduction Natural
No one wants to talk to someone who forces their business, even if that is what you are there for. Work on an introduction that comes across as natural by working it into the conversation you are already having – bonus points if you can make it relevant to the person you are talking to.
6: Ask Questions – and Listen
When it comes to networking, it is best to remember that it is not all about you and your business. The people who you are speaking to will primarily be thinking about what is in it for them, so make sure you focus on them just as much as yourself.
An easy way to do this is by asking questions and listening intently to everything they say. You will come across as more attentive and the people you have connected with will be much more likely to remember you in a positive light, which is exactly what you want.
7: Have Confidence in Your Business
If you do not have faith in your business, how will anyone else? Before you get out there and start exchanging email addresses, make sure you have full confidence in what you are selling. It will come across in your tone, body language, and words whether or not you are worth investing in, so it is crucial to believe in yourself.
8: Always Carry Business Cards
Business cards are still relevant, so carry them wherever you go. It is not just your business card design that will attract people to contact you, but it is also what you say when you hand it over, so make sure you come across as friendly and trustworthy.
9: Keep Up Relationships
You do not want to make surface-level business relationships over and over again – what you should aim for is stable, long-term relationships that both parties reap benefits from.
To do this, keep in contact and show interest once you have followed up, even if you do not have anything to gain. Remember, the longer you stay in contact, the stronger the relationship becomes!
10: Use Social Media
Social media is a great tool for networking, so use it and do not be afraid of reaching out to people if you think a working relationship would benefit the two of you. Just remember, social etiquette is different online than it is in person, so learn how to write an excellent opening message.
11: Host Your Own Networking Event
If you are tired of attending event after event in varying places, why not host your own? Not only will you gain the benefit of having people come to you, but your business’s name will already stand out as the host! There is an extra responsibility, however, as you will need to put on a fantastic event to impress.
Networking is a skill that, when used properly, will help your business grow further than ever before.