Networking is one of the most important activities any business owner will engage in. It fundamentally involves meeting other business owners and industry leaders to learn from them and hopefully create long-lasting, and profitable, partnerships. However, networking can turn out to be ineffective if not properly harnessed.
If you want to get the most out of networking events, consider the following helpful guidelines:
1. Have a self-intro
When asked ‘What do you do?’, you must have a clear and concise answer ready that will translate to a productive conversation. A simple, ‘I sell cakes’ is not enough and there are several pitfalls to avoid, which will be discussed in future articles. You can ideally communicate information such as what types of cakes or confectionaries you sell and who your target market is. You may even highlight your plans for the future, in order to spark a fulfilling conversation.
2. Listen to the people you talk to
This not only shows that you believe what they have to say is important, it will also give you great hints about the type of person you’re engaging with. Getting to know the person you are talking to helps you better understand their unique needs and whether your business can assist them with solutions.
3. Be personal in your approach
Even if it is a formal event, try to be friendly and personal. This helps both you, and the people you communicate with, to relax and open up. Also, coming across as friendly makes it easier for people to approach you about potential business partnerships.
4. Work on your body language
Looking nervous can greatly work against you as you are likely to discourage people or potential partners/clients from approaching you at all. Relax your shoulders and avoid crossing your arms when standing; remember to always smile.
5. Remember to follow up
It is not enough to only exchange contact details with people you meet at networking events. Follow up proactively by visiting their website, for instance, and sending an email with details on who you are as well as your services. From there, you can look into setting up a follow-on meeting and hopefully establish a new business relationship.
If you have a professional, yet easy-going disposition when interacting and conversing with people, you are likely to gain something positive from the meetings. Follow the above helpful guidelines in order to start harnessing the full potential of your networking efforts.
Looking to put your networking skills into practice? Then the National Small Business Chamber (NSBC) invites you to My Business Expo 2016. Get your free ticket online now and embrace the opportunity to meet thousands of like-minded business professionals. Get your tickets here.