How to manage your way through networking events as an entrepreneur
Learning to network does not come naturally, which I found out the hard way. When I started my business I was a young entrepreneur that needed to figure out how to make a business work. Very soon, I started to understand the importance of networking to help build my business and connections. This often meant going out of my comfort zone.
When going to networking events I would often pull into the parking lot and sit in the car giving myself a pep talk about what would happen at the event and how I would walk in the door. It was hard for me even though I consider myself an extrovert. It took time, but I have learned many important lessons about networking over the years.
Below are the most important lessons of networking I have learned in my 25+ years of business:
1) Be genuine
People like knowing you can show your true self and that you aren’t trying too hard or making things up. Share a bit about yourself like your family, what you do for entertainment, where you travel. These things will give you all sorts of connections that you might not have already had.
2) Go with your goals in mind, but don’t be forceful
Have goals like passing out 5 business cards to qualified leads OR to those you can help with their career and connections. Helping others will ultimately lead to success for you.
3) Visit as many groups as you can when you start out
Look for groups with like-mindedness as well as where your clients might hang out.
Get involved in community service to lend a hand locally. Find groups or organizations that inspire you.
5) Ask open-ended questions when you meet someone
Be a good conversationalist and learn how to pull conversation from others.
6) Become known as a source
If a hotel needs to know where to find a unique piece of furniture, they know you will be able to find it.
7) Know your elevator speech
You have 30 seconds to connect – make sure your speech is no longer than it takes for the elevator to get from the first floor to the 3rd floor. Be succinct and clear about what you do and who your ideal client is.
8) Know your ideal client and how to tell others who your ideal client is.
Being able to identify your ideal client will allow others to help you in your search for the perfect client. They will know exactly who you are looking for and when they come across that perfect client, they can share your contact information. Word of mouth is so much more valuable than that expensive ad you put in the magazine.
9) Follow through
After the event, reach out to the contacts you made, you never know what will become of the connection.
10) Schedule follow-up meetings
Meet with those contacts that have something for you or have something they need from you that you can provide.
Giving first goes a long way to serve you.
What networking techniques have helped you in your business?