Business networking can be a significant boost to your company; if you get in touch with the right people, you could find yourself with more potential customers, more partnership opportunities, and even the possibility of working with another company to expand.
But business networking isn’t easy. It can be a nerve-wracking process, and it’s difficult to know if you’re doing and saying the right things. Here are 5 tips that will help you get started on the right track.
This may sound obvious, but it needs to be said. The businesses with the most connections are the ones who make networking a priority; they spend time, money, and effort on it on a regular basis. They don’t just wait for others to come to them.
This means taking part in online and real-life networking groups, travelling to conferences and professional events, and spending time on the phone and on the internet making connections. It may sound like a waste of time, but the success of your business could be riding on it. Don’t skip out.
It’s easy to focus on a single method of networking, whether it’s via online groups, in-person meetups, or professional conferences. All of these methods have their advantages, but they all have one significant disadvantage, too: not everyone takes part.
This means that if you only spend time networking on LinkedIn or a local professional group, you could be missing out on a fantastic opportunity with someone who doesn’t use that type of networking. Branch out of your comfort zone and try new ways of meeting business connections to get the most out of your networking.
Your goal in networking might be to get a boost for your business, but setting out with that objective isn’t going to get people to talk to you. What will get people to talk to you is an offer of help—maybe you can recommend a useful contact for someone you just met, or you can give them a lead on a potential client.
These are the kinds of things that will help you make important connections; meeting someone and immediately asking for a favor isn’t going to get you anywhere. But becoming known as a person who can be very helpful will create lasting relationships that will help you in the future.
The question “How can I help you?” comes up in networking conversations a lot, and if you don’t have a good answer for it, you might be missing out on a great opportunity. If you’re looking for industry contacts, client leads, tech help, or any other specific assistance, be ready to talk about it with someone who might be able to provide it.
This is also true of what you can provide—if you meet someone who you think you can help, you need to be able to tell them how you can help them, or they’ll quickly forget your conversation.
This is another one that should be obvious, but can be easy to forget. Exchanging business cards, while some people think it’s a thing of the past, can still be a really useful practice. Having your contact information, website, and title will also serve to remind people of who you are.
Business cards with blank backs are great for jotting notes on, too. If you decide to have coffee with someone, write a quick reminder on the back of your card with the time, place, and topic so they don’t forget.Lynkos, Networking