There’s never been more ways to spread the word about your business. Both online and offline, we’re living in an exciting era of marketing possibilities. That said, the power and potential of networking events remain timeless. Getting out there, meeting new people and listening to their stories can lead to long-lasting and mutually beneficial partnerships that will propel your business forward.
Networking doesn’t come easy for us all; Especially those of an introverted stripe. The prospect of entering a room full of strangers and introducing yourself can be daunting. There are ways you can control how daunting this experience is. Networking is important for every business, so here are some tips to help you grow your business by attending networking events.
Before the Event
One way to ease anxiety about attending networking events is to prepare in advance. Pack your bag full of business cards, pens, a fully charged phone and even little touches like mints. You’ll likely be shaking quite a few hands, so having the ability to instantly share your business cards or add an important contact on LinkedIn is vital. Will food be served? If not, ensure you eat beforehand so you aren’t left feeling hungry or lethargic. Consider the dress code; you don’t want to show up to a formal event in shorts and sandals.
Another aspect of your preparation is to comb through the attendee list and strategically identify people you want to spend time with. Look them up on LinkedIn and find common ground you can spin into small talk. Identify those who can synergize with your business and think of what you can offer them in return.
During the Event
Give yourself the best possible start to the networking event by arriving early. There will be less people and smaller groups, making it easy to integrate yourself and begin feeling at ease. Your body language during this time is key. Even if you’re feeling nervous, remember to smile and relax your posture. There are few things more welcoming than a smile and a handshake.
Resist the temptation to immediately start talking about yourself and your business. Instead, take the opportunity to listen to others, take an interest in their business and don’t hijack the conversation. You’ve likely practiced your business pitch and are eager to give it. Relax, networking is about relationship building. Keep things fun, light and informal. The pitch can come when you follow up.
Hopefully, you’ll engage in some fascinating and in-depth conversations but resist the temptation to spend too long talking to one person. Gain enough knowledge to know whether your business interests align, take their details and move on. You’re there to meet people not just one person. Any business cards you receive, jot down details about the person on the back so you can easily recall who they were.
After the Event
Take some time the day after the networking event to complete the final part of the process: following up. First off, connect on LinkedIn with the people you met at the event. It will give you an easy way to stay in touch and benefit from their existing network. For those you really connected with, pick up the phone or email them. Offer to take them for a coffee or lunch to continue your conversation in more detail.
Attend the SBBC Awards on February 21
Why not practice what you’ve learned at the Small Business BC Awards Gala? This special night is your opportunity to rub shoulders and connect with BC’s top business leaders, industry insiders and government officials. Enjoy drinks and appetizers as you work the room and forge long-lasting connections with fellow entrepreneurs. Don’t forget to pack your business cards!
Book your ticket today and don’t miss out on this annual extravaganza.