Networking can be intimidating. If you’re a new business owner, the task can seem even more daunting with the added pressure to sell yourself and answer the dreaded “so, what do you do?” question. Learning how to make a notable first impression is essential to growing your business and creating lasting relationships.
Effective networking is actually fairly simple, and we’ve put together a short list of tips to kick-start the process for you.
1. Don’t be Afraid to Sell Yourself
As much as you don’t want to think of yourself as a salesman, having the confidence to self promote is absolutely essential for effective networking. Having an elevator pitch handy (a quick, persuasive sales pitch) that you’ve practiced can help break the ice. Business Insider published a great article on “How to Sell Yourself in 30 Seconds and Leave People Wanting More” which guides you through the steps of creating your elevator pitch.
“Your elevator pitch should answer three questions: Who are you? What do you do? Where do you want to go, or what are you looking for? You need to know exactly what you want to achieve or no one can help you get there.”
You don’t want to be that person standing awkwardly in the middle of the room. Before attending a networking event, make sure you do some research and have some topics of conversation tucked away. Research an individual you hope to connect with prior to the event and discover some of their interests, hobbies, most recent publications or accomplishments.
3. Relate on a Personal Level
Saying, “I loved your most recent article on xyz topic” shows the individual you’re informed, but relating on a more personal level, such as talking about an interesting hobby, or something you both have in common, shows that you’re a real person. People love to talk about themselves. Open ended questions are a great way to spark continued conversation. Effective networking doesn’t need to be all about the business.
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Thinking only of how you can profit by networking with an individual is a rookie mistake. Of course the goal of networking is to exchange information and eventually profit from your new contacts. However, focusing only on those individuals who can benefit you will be apparent, even if you don’t realize it. Practice active listening. Don’t brush someone off, interrupt, or try to force a sale. Even if the connection isn’t effective immediately, it may be in the long run. Which brings us to our last tip….
5. Remember to Follow Up
Your effort in effective networking will go down the drain if you fail to follow up to reaffirm the connection. After meeting a new connection, make sure to get their contact information/business card and send a brief follow up email mentioning what you talked about in conversation, how you can help them, and how you’re looking forward to possibly working with them or speaking with them again in the future.
Effective networking doesn’t need to be complicated. Practice makes perfect. Follow the simple tips above and add your own personal flair. You’ll feel like a pro in no time. Contact us to learn more about effective networking strategies, pursuing meaningful work, or becoming your own boss.
I’m passionate about social entrepreneurship and making the world a better place. I have over 15 years of professional business experience and have founded 2 companies as an entrepreneur.
Right now I’m the founder of Change Creator magazine app which is truly designed to push mindful business, making it the standard to use business to solve social and environmental problems. “Business as usual” is no longer an option.
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