As a business owner or a career professional, one of the keys to growing a profitable brand or building a successful career is effective networking. This is because the more quality people you know, the more you increase your chances of having access to life-changing opportunities that can help you grow your business.
That’s why as an entrepreneur, one of the greatest skills you should master is the art of networking. With effective networking, you have the potential of meeting more people, learning more about different industries and how you can collaborate with them and also, it gives you the ability to learn from those who are already ahead of you.
If you are a new entrepreneur or perhaps the thoughts of striking conversations with people you are not too familiar with makes you cringe, do not fret. You can master effective networking strategies in no time.[Great Read: 6 Top Reasons Why Your Social Media Efforts Are Not Leading to Sales]
The first step is to determine that you will step out of your comfort zone. The second step is to show up and then the third and last step is to keep repeating the first and second steps.
Once you make up your mind to step out of your comfort zone and you actually show up, you will find out that networking is not as difficult as you always thought it would be. For your next networking event, follow the following steps to get the most out of it.
Find Out What Type of Guests the Event Will Attract
Successful networking is not just about attending any type of networking event, it’s about attending events that will be relevant to your growth. Prior to accepting an invitation to attend a networking event, you must conduct your due diligence and find out what type of guests the events will attract.
Plan Your Outfit Ahead of Time
Now that you know the type of guests that will attend the networking event, you should begin to plan your outfit way ahead of time. You must find out from event organizers what the appropriate type of dressing is. You should not be overdressed or underdressed. If possible, take the time to visit the organizer’s social media accounts or website to see if they’ve planned similar events and observe the mode of dressing for past events. Do not wait until the last minute so you won’t be flustered and disoriented.
Know Your Route and Plan Your Mode of Transportation
Unless you already know how to find your way to the venue of the networking event, you should plan your mode of transportation ahead of time. Planning your mode of transportation helps you to arrive on time. Check the local news for detours or any construction activity that might impact your journey.[Great Read: Pricing Strategies for Retail and Service-Based Businesses]
Practice Your Elevator Pitch
Networking events can be uncomfortable especially when you have to walk up to a stranger to introduce yourself. One way to reduce anxiety and make this more bearable is by exuding confidence that comes with practicing your elevator pitch way ahead of time. When you learn how to introduce yourself properly and with confidence, it creates a memorable experience for those who interact with you. This will, in turn, encourage them to follow up with you.
Take Plenty of Business Cards
There’s nothing that screams not being serious more than attending a networking event with a business card. It’s like a farmer who shows up to the farm without his tools. How will he or she get the work done? Your business card is a small but powerful tool that sends a message to anyone you hand it to that you mean business. Always have an abundant supply of business cards and do not wait until you have an event before you start scrambling around
Introduce Yourself to Others
On the day of the event, you must not only sit and chat with those you know, but you must also move around and interact with others you don’t know. Interacting with people you don’t already know is an opportunity to build your network. Avoid talking too much about yourself. Instead, ask questions and listen to others while they talk about themselves. Be sure to collect their business cards as well.
Collecting business cards is useless if you don’t follow up. There’s an old saying that states that “the money is in the follow up” You must not get tired of following up because that’s where the money is. If you don’t follow up with someone whose business card you collected then it’s as good as not collecting the money at all.
In all, always remember that networking as with other skills is an art that needs to be mastered. The more you engage in it, the better you’ll become and the more benefits you’ll reap. Also, bear in mind that it’s not just about attending every event you are invited to but it’s about taking your time to determine whether the type of people each event will attract will help you reach your business goals.
Thanks for reading! What additional networking tips would you like to share? Please leave a comment.
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