By Dange Durett
Networking (Net + Working) – is interacting with other people to build relationships, exchange information, and make contacts, especially to your career and business.
Networking events /groups create opportunities by bringing people together matching them not only by their interests and industries they are in or looking to expend to, but also by businesses opportunities they are looking for.
[image floating=’left’ margin_top=’5′ margin_bottom=’5′ margin_left=’0′ margin_right=’20’ src=’http://labasconnect.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Network-Women.jpg’ position=’left’ resize=’1′ lightbox=’1′ resize_width=’400′]In order for a small business to start working, to get more clients and customers you, as a business owner, have to network – you have to have more exposure – you need more people to know that you exist, to know about your business, about what you do, how you do it, and know how to reach you.
During any networking event do your best to engage with the people you talk to – ask questions and, most importantly, listen to what is important to them and what they are looking for. A full engagement with the person will lead you to a better understanding of their and your business. This will eventually create potential opportunities and establish long term business relationships.
If you are just getting familiar with networking events, it might take you a few networking events until you feel comfortable and confident asking questions to people you haven’t met before. Once you feel comfortable you will be able to make your point across, and this eventually will lead you to meet new potential clients/ partners sooner than you can imagine. Some people you will meet at networking events may even become your friends. Networking is about building long-term relationships.
Attending networking events may be time consuming. Try to be selective and consider participating only in those which can provide value to your business. Networking will help you to improve your relationship skills, learn from others, and they are great opportunity to marketing yourself.
Business event attire – my suggestion is to dress professionally to impress. Because you will never have a second chance to make a first impression. It’s 2015! Flip plops with jeans and a t-shirt, doesn’t matter how smart you are – is so 2010…
My top 5 advices for beginners going to a Networking event:
1. Have your 30-40 seconds “elevator speech” mastered.
To prepare your “Elevator pitch” start by answering a few key questions about your company/ business such as: What is your goal and what you do? You can engage your introduction with a question as well. Put it all together. And … PRACTICE!
2.Introduce yourself to others.
When you are at the networking event, you are there to be active! If you have never done it before, challenge yourself – make it your goal to introduce yourself to at least 5 people. Even if it is hard for you, know that the person you are going to introduce yourself doesn’t know that you are nervous, so, “go get them!” Even if you screw up your introduction, think of this as an opportunity to improve your introduction skills. You will do better next time.
3. Do not underestimate or overestimate anybody.
Some of us can get intimidated by some people. Do not worry if somebody wears sharper clothes, is taller, younger, or older than you. Everybody is somebody’s somebody! Maybe the person you are intimidated to talk to knows someone who has the skills you are looking for in a partner. They may be looking for a specialist like you or your services. Even if you don’t have a business, maybe that person would be a good potential client to the business of somebody you know.
4. Practice asking “ice breaking questions”.
After you introduce yourself, try to find a topic of common interest. Such as “How did you hear about the event? How do you know the host of the event? Did you watch the game last night? How long have you been in the business?” Believe me – it works!
5. Collect as many business cards as you can!
Every time you introduce yourself hand out one of your business cards. Most people in return will offer one in return. You may also ask people if it will be okay for you to add their email address to your business’ mailing list. People love when you ask their permission and respect their privacy.
Labas Connect +1(630) 303 7883
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