Networking is a very important tool for all business owners so before you go to that next networking opportunity make sure you are prepared! Here are some tips from a popular blog as well as some that we have complied ourselves:
- Bring a LOT of Business Cards
Don’t get caught in the trap of only having one business card for each attendee. Situations may arise where you meet someone and they want to have several of your business cards to pass along to colleagues. Make sure you always have plenty to give out; business cards are small and travel well so there’s no excuse for bringing too few.
- Know What You Do
This may sound ridiculous but you should practice introducing yourself so that you will know what to say when the time comes. Work on honing down your bio to just a few sentences. Include your name, the name of your business, your title, and a brief description of what your actual job functions are. Owners or founders of businesses vary greatly in the level of involvement that they have in the company- figure out which hats that you wear are important enough to justify mentioning them. Go through it a few times and make sure that if you were the one listening you wouldn’t get bored and start looking for the closest exit.
- Know Where You Are Going
You’ve introduced yourself and your business. Now what? The person or people you are speaking to may wonder what it all means- where are you going? Have an idea of where you see yourself and your business in the next one, five, or ten years. This may help open up business opportunities for you as you network.
- Look Professional
Your number one priority at a networking event is to make a good impression. Make sure that your appearance is polished and professional looking- from your clothes to your hygiene to your materials.
- Listen and Learn
Don’t just push your agenda- keep an ear open for new technologies, ideas, and contacts. Find out who the most influential people are and make sure that you’re open to hearing what they have to say. Use the event as a learning experience.
- Keep Notes
Make sure to jot down quick notes on the back of business cards after you meet someone. Include an idea of what you talked about, something that you learned, a joke that they made, what they were wearing, etc.- anything that will help you remember who they are later.
- Make the Rounds
Networking is a numbers game so you should try to speak with as many people as you can. Your aim shouldn’t be to dart around the room collecting business cards as possible without any real interaction, but you shouldn’t spend all of your time with one or two people either. Find a balance between making a personal connection with everyone you meet and also working the room.
- Expand Your Notes
Consolidate and elaborate on the notes you jotted down during the event as soon as it is over. The quicker you expand on these notes the more you’ll remember about each person. Make sure you have enough to remember each person so that if you get to meet him/her again you’ll be prepared.
- Follow Up
Send a letter, note or email to each contact you made at the event. A personal handwritten card is the best option if you want to stand out and be remembered.
- Get Additional Contact Information
In your correspondence after the event, encourage the people you networked with you provide you with their full contact information- their LinkedIn profile, Twitter user name, etc. so that you can stay in touch easily.
- Share Your Experience
Blog, Twitter, or post in forums about your positive experience at the event- it’s a great way to let your thoughts become a topic of discussion, meeting place for fellow participants, or source of information on the event. Event organizers are eager to share positive feedback on their events, which can quickly generate a buzz about you and your company.
-Kate Pierce eCommerce Specialist