Networking is one of the most effective methods of building your business, but if you are a new business owner, if you consider yourself to be an introvert, or simply don’t have a lot of professional connections, it can be challenging.
Networking, however, might be the single most important thing you do in the effort to establish yourself in business. With these eight simple tips and insights, you’ll soon be on your way to becoming a master networker.
1. Attend networking events
Networking events, trade shows, and local chamber meetings hosted by Ann Arundel Chamber of Commerce are all great places to network. Look for events that fall within your niche, but also check out events that are related to your niche.
2. Arrive early
Showing up a few minutes before the meeting or event start time allows you to get yourself oriented and it also demonstrates that you care, that you are well-organized, and that you have respect for other people’s time.
3. Be yourself
Being too forceful, sales-y, ingenuine, or superficial is an immediate turnoff for most people. This goes for personal as well as business interactions. Try to relax and be yourself; don’t lead with a sales pitch and always put the emphasis on making a friendly connection first.
4. Face to face meetings are still best
Receiving emails from people you don’t know is never a good way to establish a relationship. If you want people to remember you, show up in person.
5. Provide value and do it for free
Business owners love nothing more than discovering a new way to solve a problem. If they can do it using free resources, all the better! What can you provide that will fit this bill? It might just be a bit of advice you offer in a conversation, or it could be a recommendation. Five minutes of your time might make all the difference in someone else’s world.
6. Take notes
When you meet with new connections, remember to jot down any interesting points you discussed – even the personal stuff, like restaurants they like or where they like to vacation. Even seemingly trivial items can become important to future conversations. You just never know.
7. Following up
Second in importance only to the connections you make while networking is the follow-up. Once the excitement and activity of the event have passed, it’s easy for people to forget who they’ve met and what they talked about. Be sure you collect contact information and follow up after the event to reinforce the work you’ve already done. Send an email or call them on the phone, as appropriate.
8. Don’t spread yourself too thin
While you’re likely to meet a multitude of potential connections while networking, not all of them have the potential to become productive. Focus your efforts on the ones that have the most potential first.