Networking. It’s something every business owner knows they should do, but it’s often something entrepreneurs don’t necessarily want to do—usually because they’re unsure of what to do and how to start. This is how Oie felt during a recent virtual networking event, so she turned to Darren for some advice. These tips and tricks come from a seasoned networker, so you can’t go wrong with following them!
We’ll talk about what to do before, during, and after a networking event to make the most of your experience and make connections that will help grow your business.
Networking doesn’t start when the event begins. Preparing yourself both mentally and physically ahead of time will help you avoid the mistake of treating it like a social event and make the most of the opportunities available to you. Here are three key things to do:
Think about what you want to accomplish at the event and set a clear goal for yourself. This helps you know exactly what you should be doing while you’re there, instead of wondering what to do next. Here are a few ideas for networking goals:
Only set one goal at a time to avoid overwhelming yourself. It’s okay to start with a smaller goal as you get comfortable networking!
This is an absolute must! Business cards help you keep track of who you’ve talked to and are the easiest way to hand out (and receive) contact information. If you don’t have any, it’s relatively easy and affordable to get some made. We are picky about our business cards, and prefer to have thick, quality material and something unique to make them stand out.
If you’re attending a virtual networking event, be sure your LinkedIn profile, business Facebook page, and website are up-to-date and working properly so you can send your new contacts directly to one of those places.
Different industries have different standards of formality, so be sure you know what’s typical for your industry and dress accordingly. Most networking events will have a business casual dress code, but pay attention to if you need to dress more (or less) formally so you’re aligned with the overall vibe of the event.
Just as you arrive at the event, there are a few last-minute things to do to make sure you’re in the right mindset for successful networking.
It’s showtime! During the event, you want to make as many meaningful connections as possible. This doesn’t just include connections that exclusively benefit you—if you’re able to make introductions that help other people, that makes it easier for others to help you too.
These tips will help you overcome the awkwardness that can come with networking and make strong connections to help grow your business.
Start with a firm handshake, eye contact, and lean in slightly to show that you’re listening. Ask them what they do or why they’re at the event, but try to be as natural and conversational as possible. Here are a few good starter questions:
Once you’ve heard about what your new acquaintance does, ask them what specific help or connections they’re looking for. Pay close attention and take notes so you can connect them to people you know, whether it’s now or in the future when you have a few more networking contacts. If you have specific advice or guidance, offer it.
Asking these questions and offering help or guidance not only helps create meaningful connections, but also sets the stage for them to ask you the same questions and offer their knowledge or connections.
You should be able to describe your business in two to three sentences in an interesting and compelling way. Don’t just name your job title and company, but give details about what you specialize in. This makes you more memorable and provides extra context so people can give you more specific help and introduce you to the most important people.
Additionally, it’s important to know exactly what kind of help or introductions you’re looking for so you have an answer ready when someone asks how they can help you. This should be tied back to the goal you set before the event.
There’s only so much talking you can do at a busy networking event. Try to set up coffee meetings or phone calls for later on when you can spend more time and attention on building those relationships. Remember, people tend to only refer people they know and trust, so anything you can do to build real relationships helps obtain future referrals.
When the event is over, it’s up to you to continue to cultivate these relationships. Here are three key steps you can take to make sure you make the most of your networking efforts:
As you attend more networking events and practice the tips we’ve listed here, networking will become easier and easier. You’ll have more connections and be able to provide more help to others, and in turn, they’ll find you a helpful and valuable resource and offer any assistance they can. Here are the most important things to do at a networking event:
We hope you found this networking guide useful and that you’ll find networking success by practicing these techniques. To further help you, we’ve also created a networking event checklist as a guide for planning for your next event. You can find it below.
Are you ready to learn about the reason behind the original 40 hour work week and why using technology, experts, and the internet to leverage your productivity to work less hours is so important?
Great! Go ahead and listen. Then leave a comment on our private 20 Hour Work Week Movement Facebook Group to help support everyone in this movement.
Are you subscribed to our podcast? If you’re not, we want to encourage you to do that today. We don’t want you to miss an episode. Click here to subscribe in iTunes!
Additionally, we would love for you to write a review on iTunes, too. Those reviews help other people find our podcast. Just click here to review, select “Ratings and Reviews” and “Write a Review” and let us know what your favorite part of the podcast is. Thank you!
Links mentioned in this episode:
Strategies & tips delivered to your inbox for a weekly shot of inspiration and knowledge so you can take the next steps to creating or improving your online business!