Does networking make you nervous? It may help to know you’re not alone. Many people dread networking, but with the tips below, even the shyest business owner can get comfortable connecting—and get more out of networking events.
- Set a goal. Know what you want to get from each networking event, whether it’s meeting prospects, connecting with potential partners or finding suppliers.
- Be prepared. Bring twice as many business cards as you think you’ll need, especially if it’s a multiday event like a trade show or conference.
- Have an “elevator pitch.” Be able to describe what your business does in such a way that someone who knows nothing about your industry could understand it. Focus on benefits, and keep it brief (“We help clients save an average of $10,000 when they sell their homes.”).
- Mix it up. It’s fine to attend an event with a friend, but be sure to split up and spend time meeting new peopl
- Be friendly. If you struggle to start conversations, begin by asking people about themselves—a subject everyone loves to talk about.
- Know how to end it. Practice ways to end conversations gracefully so you (and the person you’re talking to) can move on and meet new people.
- Attract attention. Wearing something unusual like a fedora, colorful scarf or eyeglasses, or crazy tie creates a conversation piece and makes you memorable.
- Be a giver. Focusing on how you can help others, rather than what they can offer you, allows you to make connections in a way that feels natural.
- Take the lead. Don’t just attend events—offer to take charge by heading a committee, chairing a panel or giving a speech. It raises your profile, so you’ll meet more people.
- Follow up. Nurture new relationships after the event by calling, sending an email or inviting the people you met to connect on social media.
- Offer something of value. Send people a link to an article you think they’ll enjoy; offer to introduce them to someone who could help their business; or mail them additional information about your business such as a brochure, booklet, tip sheet or newsletter.
- Use tech tools. After each event, put your new contacts into your contact management or CRM system to store information about them and set up reminders to keep in touch.
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