If you’re a business owner, you’re probably already spending much of your time networking. Networking is absolutely instrumental in connecting your company with partners and customers. But if you don’t have effective networking skills, you might as well be hanging out at all these entrepreneur mixers alone. In this article, we’re going to explore a few easy tips to improve your networking skills so you can make the most of your connections.
Get out of the office
Facebook and LinkedIn are absolutely invaluable these days, and it’s incredible how much you can accomplish sending emails from your desk.
But nothing beats face to face interaction. Your online profile can only say so much.
To make the most of your networking, you’re going to need to show people the genuine article.
You are your business. Most people aren’t as interested in your business model as they are the person behind it.
Face to face interactions also builds more meaningful relationships.
Meeting in person helps to establish trust and collaboration. This can lead to fruitful long-term partnerships that can greatly benefit your company.
Master your elevator pitch
The elevator pitch is invaluable.
The basic premise of the elevator pitch is simple. It’s how you would explain your business to an investor or client if you only had a quick elevator ride to do so.
And while your time might be quite as limited as in an elevator, networking events can be just as fast paced. Everyone is rushing from one potential connection to another.
A unique and compelling pitch is one of the most essential networking skills you can have. It gets people‘s attention quickly and makes a lasting impression.
Don’t be afraid to practice your pitch with friends and family. Try it out with trusted business contacts. Keep honing it until you find something that really pops.
A good elevator pitch makes all the difference in moving from the polite handshake to lucrative relationships.
Have fun with it
Networking events are technically a business activity, but that doesn’t mean they have to feel like work.
Don’t limit yourself to the same old boring conversations. Everyone at these networking events has been answering the same questions about their businesses every week as long as they’ve been networking.
Making interesting conversation is one of the most important networking skills you can have.
You don’t come out to these events to blend into the woodwork. You come to stand out.
Focus on building relationships more than promoting your business. A new friend will be far more memorable than another business card.
Keep it genuine
Business relationships, like friendships, are built on trust. Sincerity and honesty go a long way.
To build genuine relationships, you have to show a genuine interest.
Ask more personal questions. How did they get started in their industry? What drives them? What’s the most rewarding part of the business?
If you have a hard time thinking up fresh topics, here is a list of fresh conversation starters.
But remember, people are smart. They can tell when they’re being put on.
Invest some time into the people in your network, and it will pay massive dividends.
You know the old saying: you have two ears and only one mouth.
Just because it’s cliche doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Everyone at these events is just waiting for their turn to give their own spiel.
Listening is one of the most frequently forgotten networking skills. People notice a listener.
If you’re the only engaged person in a room full of talkers, it’s going to go a long way toward building genuine relationships.
Make eye contact. Check your body language for signs of boredom or disinterest.
Make your conversation partners feel valued and heard, and you’ll have more success in building partnerships that last.
Follow through with your contacts
How many business cards have you picked up in your career? How many are still in your wallet?
Now, how many of those people have you actually called?
A business card is worthless if you don’t follow through with those contacts. When you receive a business card, don’t put it in your wallet.
Instead, put the contact information into your address book immediately. Send a quick text or email while your name is fresh in their memory.
Everyone says they’ll give a call, but we all know it’s just a line.
Quick contact is essential to giving your networking a boost. It shows authenticity and integrity.
Internet presence is no substitute for face-to-face meetings and phone calls, but that doesn’t mean it’s worthless.
Social networks are invaluable for planning networking events. If entrepreneurs in your area are slacking off, you can even organize your own networking events.
Maintaining a consistent presence on Facebook and Twitter can lead to more fulfilling engagement with contacts and clients. Social media is a great place to make Calls to Action for your network. And, it gets you real results.
Coworking spaces are all the rage these days. These are open concept workspaces that people from different business come to work in a shared environment.
In an economy where renting your own office space doesn’t make fiscal sense, coworking spaces can offer a frugal alternative.
And since you are already in close proximity with people from other businesses, it’s a great space for cultivating networking relationships.
Coworking spaces open the door for creative collaboration, building fruitful business relationships organically.
Coworking also leads to more productivity. Surrounding yourself with other passionate, creative people can give you the motivation and inspiration you need to do your best work.
It also puts you in close contact with potential clients. Someone in the community with you might be in need of services your company provides or vice versa.
Networking skills keep you working
You can have the best business model in the world, but unless you have a network of clients and partners to do business with, it’s not going to matter.
Improving your networking skills will open the door to productive relationships and long-term success.
If you want to increase your networking skills or get involved in a coworking space, get in touch today.