Get the Most Out of Your Business Networking

| Flourish Monthly

If you’re a small business owner or sole proprietor, you probably know you should be networking. Some people love it and some hate it, but it’s the best way to get the word out about your business. 

Have you seen (or made) any of these networking blunders? 

  • Standing off to the side and not talking to people
  • Not knowing what to say during your introduction
  • Taking longer than the allotted time to speak
  • Pushing your business cards on everyone, whether you’ve talked with them or not
  • Looking around the room while someone is talking, looking for the next person you want to approach

Look, we’ve all done some or all of these things. The only way to do well, and feel confident, at networking is to practice. In the meantime, here are a few quick tips for your next meeting or event:

  1. Plan ahead. Make a goal for what you’d like to accomplish. Do you want to meet new people? Promote an event or a new product? Even if it’s just in the car on your way there, think about what you want to achieve. It may be specific people you need to talk to, conversations you’d like to have, etc. 
  2. Know what you need to take with you. Do you have business cards handy? If you’re promoting an event, do you have a flier or brochure available? Do you need to have money to pay for the event? Do you have your nametag handy? 
  3. Practice your self-introduction. This is why we network, right? We want the opportunity to get in front of a group and talk about our business. Here’s the catch: most groups only allow 15-30 seconds for an introduction. This is why it’s vital to make an impression! Check out our “Inigo Montoya method” below. 

When the meeting is over, what do you do next? Did you collect any business cards? Promise any follow up? If you need to, schedule some time to follow up. Send a few “nice chatting with you” emails and requests to meet for coffee to learn more. Invite people to follow you on social media, or better yet, follow them. What else can you do to build relationships?

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