“It’s not what you know, but who you know.”
Well, that couldn’t be more true when it comes to business networking. If you’re just starting in your career or looking for a new job (or both), then it’s time to start getting out there and meeting people. One of the best ways to do this is by going to business networking events. But how do you make sure that your next event isn’t just another waste of time?
We’re going to tell you how!
MAKE A GREAT INTRODUCTION
The introduction should be brief, clear and concise. It’s important to be specific to the event and include any relevant information about your connection. The introducer should keep their introduction positive in tone, memorable for all parties involved, professional and sincere.
Have An Elevator Speech Ready
Having an elevator speech ready is a great way to be prepared and confident in your business networking. An elevator speech is a short, concise introduction that describes who you are, what you do, and why it’s relevant to the person you’re speaking with. It should be memorable, memorable enough that someone will remember it when they see you again later on in their day or week.
Don’t Sell Too Much, Just Create Curiosity
The first thing to do when you’re going to introduce yourself is simply to prepare the introduction. You don’t have to memorize it, but make sure you know how you will start and what you will say. The introduction should go something like this:
Here’s an example: “Hi, my name is Steve Smith. I’m CEO of Smith Marketing Agency where we help small businesses succeed online through search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and social media marketing.”
Don’t try giving a lengthy speech about yourself or why your company is so great, just keep it simple and move on to talking about the other person.
Be prepared to network. This is a good idea in general, but it’s especially important when you’re going to be doing business networking events. You should know what you do and how you can help people in the room.
Be ready for questions about your business, and make sure that if someone asks you about something specific, then you have an answer ready. It’s also not a bad idea to review some common networking topics from time to time so that when someone asks about them, it doesn’t throw off your rhythm or cause awkward silence while everyone waits for an answer from the person who knows everything (you).
PREPARE GOOD QUESTIONS TO ASK
You want to ask questions that will allow you to find out more about connections and their business. It will also make your good impression in front of new connections.
Prepare questions of your own! Asking questions during a conversation allows others to share information that they might not otherwise share if we hadn’t asked them something specific—and even if there isn’t anything relevant coming up right now in this particular interaction, asking thoughtful questions can help build rapport with new contacts later on down the line when those contacts are looking for help with something specific!
Some of the possible questions can be:
- What are your goals for this year?
- What do you like most about your business?
- If there were one thing that would help grow your business, what would it be and why?
HAVE A GOAL FOR EVERY EVENT THAT YOU ATTEND
When you attend an event, be prepared to talk about your business. You may want to do this in the form of a pitch or a presentation. The idea is that you need to know what the other person does and how it’s relevant to your business.
For example, if you’re selling real estate and one of the people at the event works in real estate marketing, ask them questions about their role at their company. This will help with building rapport and showing that you’re interested in another person’s expertise.
Finally, make sure you have a good reason for meeting this person as well as a plan for how you are going to follow up with them after leaving an event (whether it’s through email or over a cup of coffee).
BRING BUSINESS CARDS
Business cards are a great way to keep track of people you meet. If you’re like me, you probably met at least a few new people at your last networking event. It can be difficult to remember everyone’s name and contact information. Having business cards makes it easy for people to have your information so they don’t have to type everything into the notes on their phone or tablet when they get home.
They make great impressions too; especially when printed with your logo and contact information! You’ll look professional which will help build confidence with future connections made during networking events!
FIND THE BEST NETWORKING EVENTS FOR YOU
Networking events can be a great way to meet new people and expand your professional network. Unfortunately, not all events are created equal. You want to find an event that’s right for you. Here are some tips on how to do this:
Find an event that’s right for your business
If you run a bakery, it probably wouldn’t make sense to attend a networking event hosted by IBM or Microsoft. Instead, try looking at local industry-specific groups like Toastmasters or SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives). These groups will typically have more people who work in similar industries as you do.
Now let’s say that the local Toastmasters meetup isn’t quite what you’re looking for because they don’t offer many opportunities for business owners and executives outside of memberships which can be expensive depending on where you live (they vary from $50-$100 per year).
In this case, try finding another group like The Indus Entrepreneur (TiE) which has chapters all over the world where entrepreneurs gather together for networking opportunities both online and offline.
Go to the events that will get you in front of your potential customers or clients. Don’t waste time going to an event where you don’t have a good reason to be there. If the event isn’t right for you, look for other opportunities in your area.
KEEP A RECORD OF YOUR CONTACTS AND THEIR DETAILS
Keeping a record of your contacts and their details is an essential part of networking. When you meet someone, make sure to jot down the following information:
- Their name and company
- What they do at their company
- How you can help them (you’ll want to tailor this for each person)
While it’s great to jot this information down on the back of their business card, I recommend using a dedicated notebook or spreadsheet so that you can track multiple items at once. Be sure to add any notes about your conversation with them and what specifically led up to these points to have a better understanding later on.
FOLLOW UP WITH PEOPLE YOU MET
You should always follow up with the people you meet. The easiest way to do this is through email, but you can also use Facebook or another social media platform.
You should follow up with everyone you meet, whether they are potential clients or not. Follow-up is an investment in the relationship and the future opportunities it could bring.
You should also follow up with people who are not interested in your services.
For example, I recently met someone at an event who was very interested in the services I offer but was not looking for anything right away (she had just started her own business). At first glance, this might seem like a waste of time since she wasn’t ready to buy what I offered yet—but if I hadn’t followed up on our initial meeting, there would be no way of knowing if she ever would have been interested or needed my services down the road!
By following up now we have set ourselves up for success when she is ready to engage me later down the road when her business needs to grow beyond what she currently has available internally.
I hope these tips will help you get started with your business networking. Remember that it’s important to go out there and talk to people, so don’t be afraid of rejection! If someone doesn’t want to talk with you, then they’re not worth your time anyway. Good luck!
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