• Networking 101 for Business Owners

Are you looking for a business partner? Are you interested in forming a partnership with another business? Are you on the hunt for new clients? Or would you simply like to introduce your clients to one another? Is it your goal to contribute to the growth of a thriving community?

Networking 101 for Business Owners

Tips for Effective Networking

Networking can help you to do one or all of the things listed above. While many cringe at the thought of showing up to an event and chatting up new people, networking can be a very useful practice for business owners. There’s no doubt about that. But you still may be wondering how to go about it. Here’s the formula.

Find Relevant Events

Who you’re hoping to meet and for what purpose will decide what type of events you should be looking to attend. You can search for opportunities to network by Facebook Events, Facebook Groups, and LinkedIn.

If there are industry authorities that you follow or associations that you belong to, you can keep an eye out for any conferences they might host. You may even be able to sign up to receive notifications when an event is upcoming.

What if you’re not ready to network in person or want to do so online too? You can engage directly with other business owners wherever they may be found on social media.

Get Up and Go!

Now that you’ve scouted out the events that make the most sense for you, it’s time to follow through and attend. This is quite possibly the most difficult step, especially after a long day at work. It may be hard to get yourself motivated.

But just think of the value at your fingertips! In reality, there is a room full of people who can, in some way or another, add value to your business just waiting for you to show up. After all, you can be a valuable asset to them as well. Get specific about this exchange of value. Once you do, you’ll likely realize that the opportunity is too good to pass up.

But what if you’re really stressed about going? You don’t have to push yourself too hard. No need to set the goal of talking to everyone present. If you only feel up to talking to one or two people, that’s okay. The point is that you go and put forth some effort, whatever amount it may be.

Use Your Manners

You’ve gotten motivated and you’ve arrived, but before you dive into conversation, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

  • Avoid the “all take no give” approach. You shouldn’t be concerned only about what others can do for you. What can you do for them? Take the initiative, without being pushy, to offer value to those you interact with.
  • Along those same lines, don’t dominate the conversation talking about yourself, your business, your goals, your experiences and so on. Allow others to share as well. In fact, take an interest in them. Doing so will make your connections that much more genuine and meaningful.

What about after the event is over? Etiquette extends beyond the initial contact.

  • Keep your word. If you promise to follow up for further conversation, do it. Especially if you said that you’d do so before a certain time, be prompt about getting in touch. People will appreciate that you take networking and building relationships seriously. As an added benefit, they’ll be more likely to follow through on their promises to you as well.
  • Lastly, even when follow-up is not necessarily expected, you should make a point to do it. Whether it’s to thank someone for a lead, arrange another meeting or simply to tell them that you enjoyed speaking with them.

The Key to Developing a Rock Solid Network

What is the one thing that is absolutely necessary for all of these others tips to be effective? Patience. You can’t do without it. Valuable connections aren’t built overnight. As with all relationships, you have to put in the work and, consequently, the time.

So what if you don’t feel that you had any success at a certain networking event? It wasn’t a complete waste of time, you can be sure. If nothing else, you’ve exercised your communications “muscles” and improved your interpersonal skills.

But more than likely, you’ve also made some lasting impressions. You never know what opportunities may arise in the future and what relationships may form as a result of the exposure.

If you take your time, choose the right ways to network and use networking best practices, you’ll increase the number of resources at your disposal. More resources mean reaching business goals faster and more efficiently. Isn’t that what you’d like to do?


Nia Gyant
Nia Gyant
Nia Gyant is passionate about helping small business owners create and execute solid marketing strategies, and writes blogs with a particular focus on inbound marketing and branding.

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