How to Build Your Ultimate Small Business Network
As entrepreneurs, we’re inclined to make our own rules instead of following others’. We’re eager to learn and wish to do it faster than anyone else. We want to be the exception to the rule and will prove that we can be just that. But how can we do any of this without help from others? We need a team of passionate people to help us achieve our goals and a team of avid supporters to spread the word about what we are doing. Having people within our network who are willing to do this is the first step in the equation. Read on for the 5 networking tips you need to know as an entrepreneur.
1. Take it to the Internet
What’s the one thing you would never attend a networking event without? Just as you would bring a resume to a job interview, always remember to carry business cards to a networking event. However, if you want to be remembered by the one, or 20, people you gave your business card to, you must take it to the next level.
Take the initiative and connect with each person on LinkedIn. This will help you not only grow your network but also find potential opportunities to work with some of your older connections.
2. Make Authentic Connections
What makes a networking event successful? Even if this is not your event, you are the one in control of connecting. The number of people you not only talk to but create authentic relationships with, determines the success of a networking event.
However, unless you are the person in charge of the event, there is no need for you to talk to every single person in the room. It’s important to remember that at a networking event, quality trumps quantity.
3. Quality Over Quantity
As mentioned above, it is not the number of connections you are able to make at a networking event, but the quality of those connections. It is important to remember that although networking events are fun, they are designed primarily to connect with people that could prove to be valuable assets in growing your business.
Engage in meaningful conversations with people you think could benefit from your services, and vice versa. This is not to say that you should solely seek out people that you could collaborate with. Engage anyone with whom you are able to have meaningful dialogue.
If you meet someone at a networking event and promise to send them a work sample or insist on meeting for a drink, reach out. Similar to a first date, you should wait until the next day to do so, but not longer, as you want to remain fresh in their memory. Reach out via email or LinkedIn, and follow through on your offer. This will not only show that you are a punctual and organized person, but that you are eager to continue the conversation.
Tip: When following up, reference something you spoke about the previous day to trigger their memory.
5. Host Your Own Event
Once you’ve gathered new connections, both online and in person, host an event. This is a great way to add credibility to your name and connect with others in the professional field. If you do not have your own office space, coordinate with a local shared office space. Many of these spaces rent out conference rooms and may be willing to work with you.
If you feel that you do not yet have the ability to run your own event, find an upcoming networking event nearby and reach out to the host. Offer to speak, teach the attendees, or become a sponsor of the event.
How many of these actions do you typically take after a networking event? If that number is less than five, then we’re glad we could help. If it was five, comment below with something else you do in order to continually grow your network.