Whether you run an online boutique, a brick-and-mortar store, or own a company, business networking is the key to success.
Networking helps you find quality leads and make connections with potential clients. Through networking, we exchange ideas, and information, and offer support.
Networking may also help you meet with individuals who might then present your business to others in a positive manner.
Your ability to connect with other like-minded individuals in the market will help your business by garnering support and motivation.
People not directly linked to your business can equally contribute to its success by bringing more attention to it through word-of-mouth marketing or social media, provided they are happy with your service.
Although networking is associated with getting favors or benefits, successful businesses know that it’s not about that at all—or at least not in the same sense. Business networking is about building trusting relations with other business owners.
Good networking is about showcasing strong communication skills, coming prepared to a meet, and following through with the prospects. Whether you are at an entrepreneur meet-up or an industry conference, you want to connect with individuals who can help your business succeed.
The following networking tips will help you make an unforgettable impression at the next business meeting you go to:
9 Prominent Networking Tips To Make An Amazing Impression
1. Host the Event at a Suitable Venue
If you are the host, make sure you have planned out everything.
Choose the right location, ensure the technical facilities are operational, and arrange for transport—these will help you make a lasting impression that will be hard to shake off.
Make sure you rent event space that not only easily accommodates the expected crowd but also makes an impression through its elegance, class, and attention to detail, and that also matches your branding.
Also, don’t forget to consider facilities that provide all the services, from food to technical support, so you can focus on your business and networking goals without worrying about the little things.
2. Set Out Your Goals
In order to get the most out of the business networking event and make a great first impression, you must be clear on what your goals are, as you cannot let your event be reduced to naught at the end of the day.
If you are someone who is there to attend, and hopefully gather connections, you should plan out how many individuals in the meet you want to approach, the purpose of your visit, and whether or not you want to get at least one connection to have a coffee meeting with you on the spot.
Some other important goals are: looking for an attractive position at a renowned company, gathering clients, seeking collaborations, etc.
Guided by a clear vision and a goal, it will be much easier for you to navigate the networking event.
3. Do Your Research
Get to know a little more about the particulars of the event. You should know who will be in attendance, so you can tinker and tweak your pitch for the people you’d be approaching. Research online, through LinkedIn or other social networks, on the possible attendees.
Usually, the entire event plan is posted online on the host company’s website or social pages. You could also explore the online experience option if you are far away and can’t make it to the event in person.
4. Dress the Part for the Business Meet
Take the special consideration to put on a business-appropriate attire for the meeting. The dressing is the one thing that can make or break an impression in a matter of seconds.
You should stand out for the right reasons, i.e., your business ideas or networking skills, and not for how inappropriately you were dressed for the occasion.
5. Be Punctual
When it comes to attending a business event, punctuality should be your highest priority. Businesses and people associated with it value punctuality above all else because, as the saying goes, “time is money.” Again, don’t stand out for the wrong reasons. You need to make sure you are there at the event five minutes before it starts.
6. Avoid Discussing Sensitive Subjects
Business networking events can be a great as well as a daunting experience. Once you get comfortable with the person you are talking to, you might connect on a personal level and broach non-business matters. However, make sure you steer clear of discussing anything dicey and controversial, like religion and politics.
7. Listen Intently
Nobody enjoys the company of a person who likes to talk about themselves all the time. Your job is to make your point and then listen intently to the other person, and figure out the motives behind what they say.
Listen, ask for clarification or elaboration with follow-up and relevant questions, relate with an anecdote of your own, and answer their questions. It takes a lot less than you think to hold a civilized conversation.
8. Drop the Salesman Act
One of the best networking approaches is to be yourself and talk about business in a non-sales way. Once you introduce yourself, don’t start selling your product right off the bat.
This will only succeed in irritating and deterring people from meeting you in the future. Rather share your thoughts and inspirations on the current industry trends to get the conversation going.
9. Mindset and Body Language
It is only natural to feel out of your element at networking events if you are a newbie. Instead of hiding your fears, make yourself vulnerable and push past the fears. Give yourself the room to fail, embarrass yourself, or be judged.
Ensure you have an open body language, make strong eye contact, and smile a little to loosen up the nervous energy. All these body language cues ensure that you are perceived positively by your connections.
Whether you are a business looking for a collaboration, an individual looking for an attractive position at a reputable firm, or an investor looking for a valuable asset to invest in, networking events can be the perfect place to find your prospect. Just make sure you are at the venue on time; create a positive impression through your communication, dress, and body language; come prepared with the right research; and that you are guided by clearly delineated goals.