For many, networking is one of the most beneficial ways to meet new prospective clients/ customers. Depending on your industry, the face-to-face interaction that networking can provide is the key to getting exposure that many small business owners & entrepreneurs need.That is because networking affords you the opportunity to be able to explain a business or product that needs more than a picture and short description on a website can provide.
In addition, if you work in an industry with a great deal of competition, it can give you the chance to make a personal connection with a prospect, and let them see first hand what sets you apart or makes you a better fit for them.
However, for many, networking is considered a “necessary evil” or chore. Those folks are doing it wrong ;). Here are some of my “Do’s & Don’ts” of successful (and dare I say, enjoyable, networking:
Start small. If you don’t like networking because crowds or large events stress you out, start with a smaller, more intimate event.
After all, it’s quality over quantity. If you are in a room with fewer people, it won’t seem so overwhelming, and you have a better chance of actually meeting and having meaningful interactions with the other attendees.
Stand in the corner. If you are shy, find a friend or coworker to go with you and “work the room” together, at least, to start. Once you build some confidence, consider approaching someone without your friend/coworker.If you don’t have someone to attend with, reach out to the host of the event and ask if they might be willing to make a few introductions initially.
Wear a name tag. Some events provide name tags for those who attend, but that might not always be the case, so consider ordering a proper name badge you can wear to any business related event. It will help people see who you are and what you do, and, if you come with a professional name badge, it already sets you a bit apart.
Blend in. If you don’t have a name tag, wear something that stands out a bit. A bold tie or top, or a distinctive print accessory. Someone who speaks to you may not remember your name (especially if you don’t exchange business cards) but if you wear something they might recall, they can ask the host or someone to remind them of your name, and have a better chance of the person being able to figure out who they are referring to.
Networking can actually be enjoyable. These are just a few tips to begin with. We will discuss more in a future post. How about you? What tip(s) do you have to add to the lists?