Ah, networking. No matter what kind of business you're in, an entrepreneur would do well to attend a few events per year that are based in networking.
The extrovert in me loves to go to networking events. You never know who you're going to meet, what you're going to learn, if you'll get leads, if you'll get sales... the possibilities are endless, right?
The introvert in me is just as nervous as the excited, positive extrovert. What if I mess up? What if they aren't "my people"? What if I get sold to and it throws me off my game?
I happen to think that if you are prepared with an attitude that blends the extrovert and the introvert together nicely - you'll rock that networking event. Here are some other tips to help you through!
Prepare your strategy. Make sure you are clear on what your strategy is going into this event, and prepare yourself/your display for it. Is it an event where mostly brides will be in attendance, looking for their perfect vendors? Tailor your display and your small talk conversation to weddings.
Bring souvenirs. No matter what kind of event it is, people are usually looking for a takeaway item - use this as an opportunity to stand out! If you sell jewelry, for example, tie your business card or a coupon to your shop in with a ring pop or candy necklace.
Talk, talk, talk. The beauty of networking events is that it gets a bunch of people together in a big room. Guess what you need to grow your business? People! Here is a room full of them. Be yourself - the friendly, open, happy yourself, that is - and meet as many people as you can. Practice makes perfect!
Learn from the experts. Don't forget that these events can also be great for finding new mentors that you can actually connect with, hang with in the future, and learn from! Surrounding yourself with successful people is a great way to adopt their attitudes and business principles. This attitude will help you not to see other people in closely related businesses as 'competition,' the good ones who are rocking this event can be learned from! So rock your conversations with the guests at the event, but make sure you have a learning ear and eye out on the business leaders, too.
Build rapport. If my background in education has taught me anything, it's that building rapport with students, parents and co-workers is extremely valuable to success. It helps you build credibility with people, it helps you understand who THEY are and what their needs/wants/desires are, and it can foster common ground if you're asking the right questions. In the business world, it is no different! Think about how much easier it might to ask for contact information once you've got a conversation started, plus when you reach out to them after the event, you'll be the one that stood out to them. Get inspired by some of the best relationship building tips with our Community over Competition collection!
I hope these tips are helpful and that your next networking event is a huge success! Planting seeds and helping them to grow is a huge part of your business. I hope you find lots of different strategies that help you stand out from the crowd and build a beautiful garden for your business.