Networking is a huge component of being a successful entrepreneur. When you’re working alone or you’re a small business owner, you don’t get to enjoy working with a lot of colleagues. You have to put yourself out there in order to find more people to work with and work for. You may have previously turned down networking events such as conferences, happy hours, and trade shows, but you’re missing out on valuable contacts. Maybe you’re afraid you’ll fail, but networking is a lot easier than you may think. Here are a few tips on networking successfully:
Don’t Try to Go to Everything
One of the best things to keep in mind when you’re networking is not to stretch yourself too thin. There’s literally an event going on everyday, and you simply don’t need to go to them all. Some will be full of opportunities, and some will be lacking. Find the ones that best represent your niche and your target audience. Also, find an event that fits your budget. There are a few conferences that have an absolutely ridiculous price tag and the opportunities simply aren’t worth the price tag. Choose wisely.
Work on Your Elevator Pitch
Why are you going out to network? To get your name, your face, and your brand out there. It’s easy to say your name and show your face, but when someone asks what you do or what you’re offering, can you say it just as second nature as you can say how old you are, or are you stumbling and stammering over what exactly it is that you do? Work on your elevator pitch. Memorize it, perfect it, and test it. Find a way to inform people of what you do and how you do it in a limited amount of time. It’s called an elevator pitch because you should be able to tell someone about your business in the amount of time it takes to ride an elevator. Come up with the short version (30 seconds) and a more detailed explanation (between 1 and 3 minutes). When you know what you’re doing, others will be able to grasp it too.
Do Your Homework
Depending on where you’re going, you may know ahead of time who it is you’re going to meet with. If that’s the case, do your research and find out about them to encourage talking points. If you’re meeting the CEO of a company, look up what they’re about and some of their latest developments. They’ll be happy to hear that you’re not only familiar, but actually interested, and many times they’ll show the same interest in you.
Remember You’re There to Work, Not Play
At many networking events, alcohol is available. However, this is not your chance to throw back a couple and let your hair down. You should maintain a professional demeanor at all times. I’m not saying avoid alcohol at all costs, but the last thing you want to do is make a negative first impression because you were clearly intoxicated and inebriated. Having one alcoholic beverage is fine, as long as you drink it sparingly. Water and soft drinks would be a better choice. Also, you may be surrounded by attractive individuals. You’re not there to meet a date, you’re there to connect professionally. Leave questionable remarks at home.
How do you network successfully? Would you add any more tips to having a great time and getting great connections?