Networking is essential for the small business owner and entrepreneur, especially in the start-up or growth phases. Networking allows you to meet other like-minded people, learn about local business and events, and hopefully find your next great client(s)!
With all the networking options available and the limited schedules of busy entrepreneurs, it is important to make the most of each event!
What can you do to make sure that every networking event you attend is worthwhile? Here are five tips to help you maximize your networking opportunities;
- Mingle – Work the room! Catch the eye of someone you don’t know and introduce your self. A good way to do this is to give someone a compliment, but be genuine. Make a goal for yourself to meet at least two new people at each event you attend!
- Exchange Cards – Bring plenty of business cards! Create a system for easy card access and exchange. For example use one pocket for giving cards and the other pocket for collecting cards. Be sure to look at each person’s card when they hand it to you, this will help you to remember the person and their name.
- Introductions – Use your connections to help others! Make sure you introduce people who you know or even just met. This helps increase the effectiveness of the event and increases the chance that they will do the same for you. It also helps to include at least one fact about the people you are introducing. For example where they work or what their hobby is. This demonstrates your listening skills and lets others know you are paying attention.
- Invitations – Invite others to attend events with you! Let clients, coworkers, friends, and who ever else would be interested know where you will be. This allows you more opportunity to (re)connect with people you already know and be introduced to people you don’t know.
- Follow-up – After the event, be sure to follow-up with the people you met. Send them an e-mail, write them a note, connect with them on LinkedIn or Facebook, whatever your style is, use it. Don’t let your time go to waste, stay connected!
And although it should go without saying, avoid drinking too much at networking events. When you’re uncomfortable or anxious, it’s easy to over indulge, but this is when it should be avoided. You would hate to make a bad first impression.
If you are looking for local places to network in Southern Maine, check out the Maine Networking Calendar on the Office Solutions ME website!
Feel free to contact us for networking details and coordination, and we look forward to seeing you at local events!