Small Business

How To Network Your Business

By David Krug David Krug is the CEO & President of Bankovia. He's a lifelong expat who has lived in the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, and Colombia. When he's not reading about cryptocurrencies, he's researching the latest personal finance software. 7 minute read

You’ve probably heard the adage “it’s all about who you know,” but does your social circle actually have a role in your professional success? The quick response is “yes.” Though your education and work experience are crucial to your professional development, they aren’t necessarily the deciding factors that lead to advancement. You can benefit from making connections with other people.

You may cast a broader net in your search for a new employment, business partner, or mentor thanks to your extensive network in the field. When you establish solid relationships with other professionals, they are more likely to introduce you to their contacts, thereby extending your potential reach.

However, networking is not always easy. It calls for diplomacy, social graces, and fluency in speech. If you want to make the most of your professional connections, consider the following advice.

Networking Tips that Assist You in Developing Strong Relationships

On the surface, networking may appear easy. In the end, all it takes is to show up at a networking event and shake as many hands as you can, right? You’d be wrong. How fruitful your networking turns out to be once the event is done depends on your business cards, outfit, body language, and objectives. If you want to make the most of your business networking efforts, follow these guidelines.

  1. Appropriate Dress

It doesn’t matter if the networking event is virtual or in person; you should always look your best. That doesn’t always imply a suit and tie. Casual clothes are fine for some types of networking events, such as mastermind groups and meetings.

Choose an outfit that is appropriate for the function you will be attending. Do not hesitate to wear business casual attire when in doubt.

  1. Bring Excellent Business Cards

You should, of course, have plenty of business cards to hand out at any in-person networking event. Have you ever received a business card that stood out for whatever reason (either positively or negatively)? If you’re reading this, it probably got your interest right immediately.

Some aspects of it caught your eye, whether it was the high quality of the paper or the striking layout. Don’t settle for the bare minimum if you want your business cards to get seen. To shake things up, give anything with an interesting pattern, a new take on a classic cut, or an unusual presentation a shot. Don’t worry that you need to engage a professional graphic designer. Canva makes it easy to design professional-looking business cards from scratch.

It’s crucial to create a good impression while networking at gatherings where business cards are being passed around like there’s no tomorrow.

  1. Understand Body Language

Our facial expressions, body language, and eye contact may convey just as much information as our words. Pay attention to how you carry yourself and how those around you carry themselves during business occasions. Make sure your body language doesn’t undermine your message by smiling, standing tall, avoiding crossed arms, and speaking in a flat, monotone tone.

As a result, it’s important to treat each new person as an individual and tailor your energy accordingly. While extroverts may thrive in a lively group situation, introverts may feel more at ease with a quieter one-on-one conversation.

  1. Have a Goal

Think about what you hope to accomplish at a networking event before you go. You will have a higher chance of connecting with like-minded individuals if you are able to express what it is you seek. Some typical reasons for joining a network are:

  • Seeking a business partner
  • Promoting a New Startup
  • Increasing brand recognition
  • Identifying a mentor or mentee
  • Increasing sales

Think about how your networking goals at a conference or seminar will alter the way you interact with others and the relationships you seek.

  1. Obtain a Mentor

Mentors may be an excellent way to expand your professional network because they have access to the contacts of their mentee’s more experienced colleagues. Professionally, a mentor may do wonders for you by introducing you to their contacts, gaining you access to invitation-only business events, and generally expanding your sphere of influence.

Further, many mentors have already developed a good reputation within their industry and profession, so receiving a vote of confidence from them might increase your chances of building viable and effective connections that help you achieve your networking goals.

  1. Turn become a Mentor

Instead of seeking a mentor, you might think about offering to be one. Increasing your standing as a helpful guide can lead to more opportunities in your field. It’s a great way to meet new people in your field and advance your career by increasing exposure to potential employers.

Learning about and interacting with people who have unique points of view is a great approach to keep up with the latest developments in any field. It also means you may broaden your professional horizons by participating in mentor-centric networking events and seminars.

  1. Make New Friends

Although meeting new people is crucial to networking, many professionals struggle to expand their social circles beyond their immediate circles of acquaintances. Don’t limit yourself to conversing with people in the group who are already familiar to you, such as coworkers or former classmates.

Don’t miss out on meeting new people by avoiding introductions. Your professional network will remain small if you just interact with individuals you already know, but it will expand if you make an effort to meet new people.

  1. Make an elevator pitch.

It’s important to have a brief summary of who you are, what you do, and what you want out of a networking event ready to provide to potential contacts in the elevator or sales pitch format. Whether your goal is to make a sale or to network with other company owners, you should go into the meeting prepared with a solid introduction and message.

Doing so will aid in maintaining the focus of talks and allowing you to make your point immediately.

  1. Concentrate on a soft sell.

Aiming for a quick sale may backfire in a networking situation. When meeting new individuals, avoid coming across as aggressive. Rather than trying to seal the deal on the first meeting, focus on making a new connection that you can use to your advantage and create a relationship down the road. Ultimately, success requires a patient approach.

Your chances of developing a positive relationship with a new contact will be severely diminished if you come off as aggressive from the get-go.

  1. Take Notes

As a result of meeting so many people during networking events, it might be difficult to recall the names of even a small fraction of them. For this reason, note-taking is highly recommended. However, you should not take notes during a conversation. Instead, take a few minutes once each conversation is over to jot down important details like:

  • The individual’s name
  • Their line of work
  • Where do they work?
  • Whether they work for someone else, freelance, or run their own company
  • What their objectives are
  • What did you find interesting or significant throughout the discussion?

You may go back over your notes after the fact. This will come in handy when it comes time to follow up with new contacts or if you happen to run into any of them again in the future.

  1. Develop Relationships

Don’t neglect the side advantages of networking in favor of a singular concentration on your end objective. Establishing contacts with other professionals and entrepreneurs may lead to mutually beneficial friendships, partnerships, and other associations. This, however, is only the case if you actively want to establish a genuine rapport with another person.

Not all people in a network will be potential consumers or clients, but they may know people who are. After some mutual investment in getting to know each other, they may feel comfortable recommending you to their own networks.

  1. Provide Worth

At a networking event, everyone is there for a specific purpose. These people are just like you in that they are striving for something. Focus on their goals and determine whether there is any way you can assist them.

Can you, for instance, put them in touch with someone who shares their passions and ideals? Alternatively, do you have a position available at your firm that might suit them?
When looking to expand one’s professional network or find a new job, referrals are invaluable.

Make the most of opportunities to help others by tapping into your network and expertise. If you help others, they will be more inclined to help you in the future.

  1. Use Your Network to Reach Out

The best way to meet a new professional, get into a prestigious networking event, or secure a meeting with a prospective employer is through a link you already have. Your chances of landing an interview or a job are substantially higher if you are introduced to the person in charge by someone they know and trust than if you just reach out to them in the cold.

Try contacting anyone you know who might know someone who works there or who attended the event you want to attend. The worst that may happen is that they say no when you inquire whether they know anyone who might know your target.

  1. Follow Up

It’s important to keep in touch with people you meet at networking events so you can keep the relationship strong. It’s crucial to follow up with a new contact as soon as possible after meeting them, whether that means sending a personal email, calling them, or just adding them on LinkedIn.

Make sure to add some personality to your method of checking in. Make a fresh connection by recalling something interesting they said or by inquiring about their thoughts on the incident. First interactions should be brief, cordial, and businesslike. They will let you know if they have any inquiries about your work or suggestions for collaborating.

Bottom Line

Any professional with aspiration and a sense of purpose should make networking a priority. There are several advantages to networking for professionals, including expanding one’s professional network, meeting influential people in one’s field, and maybe even securing funding and new business partnerships.

You may get the most out of the business conferences and organizations you join if you are clear in your communication, prepare in advance, and seek out a variety of networking opportunities.

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