Did you know that 85% of jobs are filled through networking? So whether you love this topic, hate it, or are somewhere in between, it’s important for all business owners to improve their networking skills. Networking is also a great place to find partners to work with.
But all of this can be easier said than done. How can you actually make it happen?
For this reason, we’ve put together this guide outlining 6 effective networking tips for business owners. Keep reading to learn more.
If you go to a networking event (like a consumer technology association) with someone else, you’ll be tempted to only talk with them the whole time. That’s why whenever possible you should go to a networking event alone. Or at the very least, make sure you split up from your colleague right when you get there.
This way, you won’t be able to fall into your safety net. You’ll be forced to talk to new people.
If this is a new concept for you, know that you’ll probably be a little nervous to do it your first time. But remember that everyone at the event is there for the same reason.
Walk up and introduce yourself. You never know what could happen.
Prepare Your Elevator Speech
Imagine this scenario. You’re meeting a potential client or partner and they ask you about yourself. And you go completely blank.
This happens way too often in our lives, especially at networking events.
That’s why one of the most important tips for effective networking is to prepare your elevator speech beforehand. This term comes from the idea that you have 30 seconds to share your story with someone, or the length of an elevator ride.
In this pitch, you should include your name, your company’s products or services, and your mission. Make it clear and concise but still passionate.
Come With Some Icebreakers
This tip also has to deal with your preparation before the event. Make sure you come with some pre-created icebreakers.
At a networking event, it’s easy for all of your interactions to feel really similar. And after a while, this can get really boring.
To mix things up, come prepared with three to five conversation starters. Here are some ideas:
- Ask people what they wanted to be when they grew up
- See what people’s favorite dessert is
- You could ask someone about a pop culture happening of the moment or a viral meme that’s been going around. Baby Yoda is a great example.
These are just a few options. The key here is that you break the ice, making way for a conversation that’s memorable.
Offer to Help
Every business owner has a massive to-do list that seems like it’s always growing. And as an entrepreneur, you’re often running multiple departments within your company.
When this is the case, a business owner will gladly accept some help. Keep this concept in mind while networking.
Networking was never meant to be onesided. So while yes, you’re entering a networking environment with specific needs and goals, so is everyone else.
And when you help people in your network, they’ll be more likely to want to help you too.
If you have a specific skill, offer it. Know how to code? Proficient in copywriting?
These are skills you can offer to your network. And then the next time you need a favor, people will be more willing to help you.
Don’t Be Afraid to Get Personal
We’re not talking creepy here. But avoid the temptation to be super formal when networking. No one wants to work with a corporate robot.
Networking is so much easier when it feels like you’re chatting with a friend instead of having an intense meeting with a potential partner.
So don’t be afraid to break down some of the formal walls that stand in the way at these types of events.
If someone asks you where you’re from, for example, you could mention your city and then how you have a trip planned there soon.
Or if someone asks about your history, you could mention your kids and one of their activities coming up.
Chances are, you’ll be able to connect about one of these bits of information, moving the networking relationship forward.
Remember the Thank You
Finishing your networking interaction is just as important as the beginning or middle. To end on the right now, make sure you give a genuine thank you.
Typically, this should be accompanied by a handshake.
And if you’re really interested in maintaining a professional connection with someone, consider sending a hand-written thank you note. In today’s digital world, this can really be meaningful. People don’t get much mail delivered to their desk these days and this can stand out.
You could also reach out on LinkedIn. This is a networking staple these days and an easy way to stay in touch.
Final Thoughts About Effective Networking
There you have it: 6 essential tips for effective networking. Whether you just started your company or have been in business for a long time, these ideas can help you grow your company.
Next, it’s time to create a plan. Where do you want to network and what type of people do you want to meet? Once you have this, you’ll be on your way to creating meaningful professional connections.
Want to learn more about taking your business to the next level? Check out the rest of our blog for additional business tips and tricks.