8 networking tips for entrepreneurs
Networking is a great way to grow your contacts, spread the word about your business, and offer a helping hand too. Here are 8 quick tips to help you get started.
1. Use social media
Social media is a simple way to get started networking. From tagging people in posts to messaging them directly, there are lots of ways to get in contact. Instead of simply marketing your business, try offering something of value instead. Reach out with compliments or interesting posts to catch their attention.
2. Attend events
Although in-person networking events are on hold at the moment, there are online networking opportunities too! Specific networking events, trade shows and conferences are the perfect place to meet people who can become valuable contacts.
3. Prepare beforehand
Make sure you prepare before attending a networking event! If you can, find out which people are attending and who you would like to introduce yourself to. You can also prepare what you’ll say about your business.
Try and avoid sounding like a salesperson, and only talk about your business if someone asks. Focus on building a relationship instead of pitching your business – you’ll create more valuable contacts that way.
4. Just say “Hi!”
If you’re nervous about networking try not to overthink it! Anyone can network, and challenging yourself to approach someone is taking a great first step. Just say “Hi”, introduce yourself, ask questions and listen instead of immediately pitching your product.
Although networking events can seem daunting if it’s your first time, remember everyone is there for the same reason!
5. Offer your help
Before asking for favours you should offer your help. See where the conversation takes you, and if there’s an opportunity to share your advice or skills, then take it. Networking relationships should be beneficial to both of you. So, by offering your help first it means your contact is more likely to repay the favour later.
6. Make the connection
Exchange details with your contact when you meet them, instead of relying on finding them online after. Make sure you have business cards with you, or ask if you can add them on LinkedIn at the end of your chat. It will make it easier for you to follow up later!
7. Don't forget to follow up
Make sure you follow up with your new contacts! Say thank you for their time, and take any actions that you may have agreed on. You could even suggest a second meeting to talk in more depth.
8. Work on your relationships
Like any relationship, you need to nurture your networking contacts for them to remain valuable. Instead of only contacting them when you want something, keep in touch with regular check ins. The more you get to know your contacts the easier it will be!