Networking is an important part of being an entrepreneur. It’s a way to build professional connections as well as your support system while you navigate the world of business ownership. While you’re getting ready to jump into the networking game, use the tips below to make every event a success.
Know Who Will Be There
If you’re feeling nervous about going into a room of strangers and starting conversations, there’s a way to take some worry away. If you have access to a list of attendees for the networking event, look over it to get a feel for the type of people you’ll be meeting. Are they small business owners or employees of big companies? Will anyone else from your industry be there? The more information you have, the more comfortable you’ll feel going into the event.
This is the easiest way to get to know someone, and the easiest way to get a good conversation going. While you’re on your way to the event, run through a list of simple questions in your head. Use them when you’re first meeting someone new or any time the conversation starts to lag. Ask about their company, how they decided to become an entrepreneur, and where they see their business going next.
One of the worst mistakes you can make at a networking event is not bringing business cards. You might make a great connection at the event and meet someone you’d like to partner with. How will they get in touch with you afterward if they don’t have your contact information? Come prepared with plenty of business cards with your name, email, phone number, and website clearly listed. Hand them out to everyone you meet. You never know who might want to work with you later.
Keep the Focus on How You Can Help
As you’re meeting people, your wheels will probably be spinning with ideas for future events and ways to team up with other entrepreneurs. When that’s happening, it can be easy to think only of yourself and your own business. That’s not a great mindset to be in during a networking event. Instead, try to focus on how you can help others. If you approach conversations with the intention of using your skills to help others, the people you meet will be likely to do the same for you.
The best tip for making the most of a networking event is to be yourself. While you’ll want to remember that you’re representing your company and building professional connections, it’s also a time to let your personality shine. That’s how you’ll find the people you click with. It also means there’s a better chance of leaving the event feeling energized, rather than exhausted from playing a part all evening.
As you go to more networking events, you’ll become more comfortable with approaching strangers and building relationships. You’ll gain experience with talking about your business and you may just meet your business partner while you’re at it.