How do you prepare for a networking event? What are the dos and don'ts for starting conversations with new people? And how do you make sure that your networking efforts are actually helping you make progress?
Whether you’re a brand-new business owner, or you’ve been at it for years, we could all use a refresher on the magic of working with, and meeting, new people. We’ll show you how to meet people where they’re at and network like a pro to take your business to the next level. 💯
Know your stuff.
Striking up a conversation with someone new is tough. Make it easier on yourself by doing your research before picking up the phone or meeting up with someone new! Can you find out if you have anything in common with this person? Do you know any of the same people? Make the extra effort to learn all you can about someone before making contact—it’ll go a long way!
Be a good listener.
You’ve got a business you’re passionate about, and you want to shout it from the rooftops! Rather than walking into a networking event and starting to spout off information about your products and services right away, start by giving others the chance to speak. Don’t look for ways to make the conversation about you … keep the focus on them. Show them that you’re truly interested in what they’re saying. Need a little help improving your active listening skills? Read this post!
Say "thank you."
Mind your manners! A simple “thank you” shows people that you appreciate them taking the time to talk with you. And it turns out, gratitude might just make you a more desirable person to work with (read up on the research behind this, here).
Keep it casual.
Nobody wants to work with the person who only reaches out to others when they need something—so, don’t be that person! Author Karen Wickre developed a concept called “keeping in loose touch.” The idea is that you reach out to people just often enough to keep a casual relationship without overwhelming them. That way, if you really need something from someone down the road, it won’t feel random when you reach out and ask for it. Learn all about making this technique work for you, here!
This is the golden rule of networking. Even if the conversation starts to go south or you don’t get the results you were hoping for, always keep your professionalism in check. Use this list for pointers:
- Arrive 5-10 minutes early to meetings and events.
- Show appreciation for feedback (again, a “thank you” goes a long way 😉).
- Look for ways to be helpful to others.
- Be honest and respectful.
- Dress professionally (we shared our tips for what to wear in pretty much any business setting, here!).
Now, it’s time for you to get out there and make those connections! Networking is an important part of any business, but it’s nothing to stress about. You’ll find it easier to make connections when you keep it classy, keep it positive, and, most importantly, have fun with it!