Every business owner has heard the term networking. Not everyone knows what it means or how to network effectively.
Networking is more than attending events or collecting hundreds of business cards. It's about building lasting business relationships that can be mutually beneficial now or in the future.
Networking can improve your business or even land you the perfect job.
Keep reading for tips on how to network effectively and efficiently.
Where to Connect Initially
You can't build a relationship if you haven't connected initially but what's the best way to do that?
Three of the best ways to find the right people to network with are through events specifically for networking, through the people you already know, and through social media.
How to Network at Networking Events
Networking events are a great resource when trying to connect with new business associates. Not every event is a good fit for you though.
Your time is precious, and you can't waste it attending an event that's not benefiting you in the way you need or want. Check out the local events and inquire about all the details.
Check online networking and ticket sites for which events are near you. Lanyard, Eventbrite, Eventful and Meetup are four resources worth investigating.
Community organizations such as local chamber of commerce, churches, and non-profit groups may host their own events or have postings and literature about those they've attended.
Decide on the Right Event
Is your networking event in the right industry? Do those who attend share the same professional interests and goals? How many usually attend? Where can you meet your best prospects?
Once you've narrowed the industry down, decide in which networking environment you'd feel most comfortable. There are networking breakfasts or happy hours, professional expos and more casual settings.
You want to be at the top of your networking game so choose an environment that will allow you to meet the right prospects while inspiring confidence in you.
Work Your Magic
Have specific goals in mind before you walk in the door.
Concentrate on getting more business cards than you worry about giving out. You can be in control of follow up when you have their contact information. 70% of people get their job because of a connection they had before getting hired.
Be sure to bring lots of business cards though. Once you lay on the charm, you don't want to lose them by not having a card when asked.
Be memorable. Make eye contact and be concise in your communication. Show a genuine interest in what's being said and even take notes if appropriate.
Take Note of the Magic in Others
Don't always focus on the people in power today. See the potential of others to succeed and start building a relationship while they're building their career. You never know where both of you will be in one, five or ten years.
Follow Up and Follow Through
The networking event is just the first step in building strong business relationships. It doesn't do you any good to attend an event, make a connection and then never connect with them again.
Make sure you follow up with the connections you made and if you've said you'd do something be sure to follow through. You don't want them remembering you for forgetting them.
Learning How to Network Takes Practice
It's not easy to learn how to network well. Choosing the right people and having the right conversations is something that will take practice.
For other tips check out our article on business mistakes successful women avoid making.