Networking is a really important part of any business. The more connections you make with everyone from customers to adjacent companies who might give you a plug, the more people there are who are likely to find out about your business and what it does, and the more money you are likely to make.
8 Steps to Business Networking Success
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most effective steps you can take to ensure your business networking efforts are a big success:
- Attend the right events
If you want to make the most out of networking events like trade shows and conferences, then you need to carefully select the best events that will enable you to make the most impact and form the right kinds of connections for your company.
For example, if you work in the insurtech industry, then attending insurance conferences rather than business conferences in a more generalized way, will guarantee that you are rubbing shoulders with individuals who are interested in your sector, work on your sector, and are looking to spend money in your sector.
This is a much more efficient use of time than attending conferences where people from all kinds of industries will be in attendance.
- Set a goal
When you are looking to network, you could simp[ly rock up to as many trade events, conferences, local chamber of commerce events, and so on, as possible, and start talking to people; you’d probably meet a lot of new people that way and you might even form a few connections, but chances are you will not make as much progress as you would if you went in with a plan.
Taking time to sit down and set a goal for your networking efforts will focus your mind. It will make you think about why networking is so important to you, what kinds of people you want to make relationships with, what kind of information you want to learn, and even how you want to be perceived.
Once you have a goal in mind, you can work towards prepping for your net networking event so that everything goes as smoothly as possible and you achieve as much as you can in the time you have set aside for it.
- Network outside of business hours
One thing that a lot of business owners get wrong about networking is that they think it is something that is solely related to their job; something that they only need to worry about when they are working. This is really not the case.
Everywhere you go, you have an opportunity to meet new people and make potentially fruitful new connections. Chat to the people you meet at the golf club, strike up a conversation in yoga class.
Give your business card to the man you meet in the airline queue and make as many new connections as you can because you never know when someone you meet might be able to recommend your company to someone or give you a great deal on the supplies you need to run your business, for example.
- Come up with an elevator pitch
Something that can really help you to focus your mind when you are networking with a view to finding clients and customers or getting investors on board, is working on an elevator pitch.
This should come in the form of a short speech you can give to anyone you meet who you think might be interested in what you do. The shorter, snappier and more persuasive it is, the more effective your marketing efforts are likely to be.
- Bring someone along with you
Bringing a friend or work colleague along with you to networking events can be a good strategy if you are someone who is nervous about the whole process of networking. It will ensure that you have a friendly and supportive face alongside you at all times, which will help to give you the confidence you need to succeed in your endeavors.
Having someone else batting for your business at an event will also mean that you can talk to twice as many people and make even more connections, which is never a bad thing.
- Have three stories ready
If you want to ensure that you are an engaging conversationalist who people naturally want to talk to at events, then having around three interesting stories about yourself and/or your business prepared and ready to go is a great way to tael the pressure off and ensure that you aren’t a bore.
Just make sure they are stories that are actually engaging, and that you practice telling them in the most interesting way possible before you hit the networking circuit.
- Join Toastmasters
If you are not someone who is confident speaking to a room full of strangers, even on a one-to-one basis, then joining your local Toastmasters is a great way to get used to public speaking in a fun and friendly way.
The more confident you are in doing so, the easier it will be to network successfully.
- Focus on what you can offer
When networking with people, it is always a good idea to focus on them and what you and your company can offer them, rather than spending too much time talking about yourself or going in for the hard sell.
People love to talk about themselves, and if you can appear interested in what they have to say, they will look much more favorably on you as a result, which means you are far more likely to achieve your aims and win them over too.
If you want to be successful in networking, then you need to be confident, but you also need to be willing to prepare in advance, set realistic goals, and have the confidence to talk to as many people as you meet about who you are and what you do, If you can do all of that, then networking success is sure to be yours. Good luck.