Business is all about relationships. They take time to develop and nurture. The payoff is great as in-person meetings have a 40% conversion rate.
Networking for entrepreneurs is a great way to build your business. If you know how to network effectively, you can increase your business and get more referrals.
The problem is that most entrepreneurs don’t have networking strategies to realize the benefits of networking.
If you want to turn into a networking ninja, you’ll want to keep reading. These are the top business networking tips to make the most of your small business connections.
1. Who Do You Want to Meet?
There are a couple of ways to look at networking. You can use it to find clients. You should want to develop relationships with other small business owners.
You might want to meet people who fit in your target demographic. Are there other professionals who can refer business to you?
For instance, a financial planner can develop a referral partner with a real estate professional. These are two professions that complement each other and don’t compete against each other. A mortgage professional is another person that compliments these businesses.
You want to find similar professionals that share a target market with your business. It’s possible to build a relationship and referral network between them.
2. Set Business Networking Goals
Do you walk into a room and decide that you’re going to meet as many people as possible? That’s one of the most overused networking strategies.
It sometimes works, but you should go into networking with clear goals.
If you attend a trade show, your goal can be to break even on the trip because of the new business you got from it.
Do you want to meet potential investors? Maybe you need to hire a new employee?
People might ask what you need help with. A simple goal helps you give them a clear answer.
3. Find the Right Networking Events
Look in your area for networking events that the people you want to meet attend. You can try the local chamber of commerce, Meetup.com, and Facebook.
It’s a process to find the right networking events. There are some that seem like a good fit, but when you get there, the energy isn’t right.
You don’t want to make a snap judgment on a networking group based on a single meeting or event. Try out a few events and then make a decision.
Remember that networking isn’t about getting a sale at your first event. It takes time to
4. Craft Your Introduction
“What do you do?”
It’s a question you love to hate. So many entrepreneurs stumble on these simple opening lines because they’re unprepared.
Either they say way too much or they say too little. In both cases, you’re not going to capture the attention and curiosity of the person you meet.
When you answer that question, focus your answer on the problem you solve and for whom. Don’t give them your job title!
Make sure that your answer is no more than three sentences. Ideally, you want to keep it to one sentence.
Practice your introduction before you go to networking events. You’ll be able to refine it and make it even better.
As the conversation goes along, keep people engaged by asking them a lot of questions. Be genuinely curious about what they do. Give people space to talk.
People love to talk about themselves, and if you give them space to do that, they’ll remember you.
If you talk about yourself for the entire conversation, people will get annoyed after a while.
5. Always Follow Up With Small Business Connections
There will be an exchange of business cards at events. This opens the door for you to connect with people later on. What usually happens is that the stack of business cards sits on a desk untouched.
Here’s how you can avoid that scenario. Bring a pen with you to the event. As you collect business cards, make a note of what you talked about.
The next day, send an email saying that it was great to meet them. Be sure to mention that you enjoyed the discussion and the topic.
You can follow that up with an invitation to have a further conversation, either on the phone or in person. You show your new connections that you paid attention and
6. Don’t Overlook Social Media
Networking in person is very effective. Yet, you shouldn’t overlook opportunities to network online. Thanks to COVID-19, networking groups found a way to take networking online.
It’s a chance to expand your network outside of your geographic area. You can hop on LinkedIn or startup-forums.com to connect with other entrepreneurs.
7. Become a Connector
The best networkers aren’t smooth talkers. They’re the people who are eager to help others be successful.
They are the people who go out of the way to make introductions, to see what they need, and to keep the relationship going.
People always remember who helped them. They’ll be more than willing to help you when you need it.
Networking for Entrepreneurs Is Easy
Do you feel ready to tackle the world of business networking? Networking for entrepreneurs is simple when you put some of these networking strategies into action.
It takes some effort to be consistent and make connections. Once you make initial contact, make sure that you follow up with your new small business connections. Make it a point to check in with people and see how you can help them.
You’ll be on your way to building a great business. For more great tips to help you improve your business, check out the other articles on the blog today!