Networking For Your Small Business: The Dos and Don’ts
It’s often said that in business, it’s not what you know but who you know. Of course, being armed with the right knowledge for the job is vital, but the importance of building connections rings true in any professional environment.
In today’s digital world, maintaining a network of useful contacts can seem rather daunting and it requires a lot of effort when you’re already running a business. The fact is though that networking is a necessity if you want to grow your business - and it doesn’t have to be difficult.
To help you gain those all-important professional opportunities and get you through your next networking event, we’ve gathered together our top tips of what to do and what to avoid!
It’s all about the basics: make eye contact, smile, introduce yourself and initiate conversation. Whilst it may sound silly, it is easy to become overwhelmed in a new environment and forget the small details that will make you approachable. Remember, whilst your new contact may be a potential future client, don’t go in with the kill immediately; instead, work on building a rapport with them and finding a common ground. Don’t expect to reap the awards of networking immediately!
Before the event, anticipate who will be there and focus on getting up to speed with those individuals or companies. Likewise, ensure that you know just what you want to get out of the event. What would you like to learn about these people? What do they need to know about you? Make sure you have your ‘elevator pitch’ prepared and that you can describe your business in a concise and engaging manner. Keep it short and sweet!
What’s the point of meeting people if you fail to follow up afterwards? Keep a record of who you have met, collect their business cards, and reconnect with them in a timely manner (no more than a week, ideally!). Whether it is through email or LinkedIn, keep the conversation going with new questions and be sure to plan to meet up again.
Be a wallflower
It goes without saying…if you wait for people to come to you, you’re less likely to find any relevant opportunities. Don’t be afraid to say hello to the people around you and make sure you don’t stick to one person - the more conversations you have, the more connections you are likely to make!
Show your nerves
Nerves are a natural cause of trying something new and networking environments can be
intimidating. Try to take a deep breath and avoid mumbling, rambling, or stumbling through a lengthy prepared script. The chances are that everyone is just as nervous as you. Doing some thorough research and preparing some questions will help to ease some of these anxieties but practise really will make perfect. Keep pushing yourself, keep showing up and your confidence will soon improve. You’ve got this!
Be “too much”
Excessive self-promotion is guaranteed to leave a sour taste. Don’t start a conversation with a business card and if you get the sense that somebody isn’t interested, don’t continue to push. Your business is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea! People can smell inauthenticity from a mile away so be sure to be honest and truthful. It will save time in the future!
The importance of who you know really cannot be underestimated, but even so, you need to observe the correct etiquette to be successful. It will certainly be worth taking the time to master your networking skills, as the right connections can make all the difference to your business, particularly when you’re starting out. After all, don’t forget that new relationships are new opportunities.
If you’re looking to start a business of your own and put your networking skills to use, the it’seeze franchise opportunity might be just what you’re after. When you partner with our franchise, you’ll receive a week of training from our expert team; ongoing support; and advice from our network of existing franchisees, so you’ll be able to continue honing your networking skills – and many other business skills – throughout your franchise journey.
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