Entrepreneurs rely on networking to grow their business, meet others they can do business with and seek out potential customers. Every detail of running a business is important but having great networking skills should be at the top of your list. It will keep your company alive, allow you to create alliances, and boost your network.
Since they always say “it’s all about who you know” and about “who knows you,” it’s smart to learn how to become a great networker. Many newbies to networking don’t realize you can easily do this by attending events, working hard on new relationships and knowing how to approach others when you get the opportunity. If you aren’t sure about networking but realize it’s important for your business, here are some ways to network that are really important to utilize.
Make it to industry events
Be sure to start attending industry events. These are great ways to meet others like yourself, interested in the same field and knowledgeable on your industry. You may meet potential clients that love the industry you work in or you may meet the right vendors, future hires or businesses you can work together on projects with. It may seem easier to sit behind a computer and do everything online, but networking in a face-to-face interaction is a very powerful tool.
While other entrepreneurs are trying to networking through online marketing techniques, you could have a leg up by attending conferences, trade shows and industry events in which you’ll form actual relationships. Check out seminars, conferences that you could offer something towards or learn something from.
Handling yourself when networking opportunities present themselves
Once you’ve gotten the opportunity to network, make sure you don’t wait to be approached but you approach people. You almost have to think of yourself as the host of the event and approach others in a warm and welcoming manner. While signing up to attend an event is great, it’s only the start. You need to attend the event with the intention of greeting others and introducing yourself.
Then, you can start the spiel you were working on in preparation of the event. Be sure to have an easy-to-see name tag, a nice suit or dress to appear professional and a pocket full of business cards to hand out. Make others feel comfortable and they will be drawn to you.
Act like you are the host of the event whose job it is to make everyone feel comfortable so that you they will want to speak to you longer and contact you after the fact. This philosophy can also be applied on phone calls, Skype, email and social media communications.
Offer quality rather than quantity
You may feel overwhelmed that you don’t have as many contacts as other businesses you know, but that isn’t the goal at the beginning of a startup. You need to focus on making any initial relationship that you do have a good one.
Build an effective network by making the best of the alliances and relationships you have now as you work on the quantity over time. You have to master the art of balancing numerous contacts with growing deeper in your relationships with those that are already in your group. You won’t be able to have close relationships with thousands of contacts but you can have trust and regular communication with a few as you grow larger over time.
For these reasons, networking is really important to entrepreneurs and should be handled with care to encourage success.