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Business networking is the process of establishing a mutually beneficial relationship with other business people and potential clients or customers. Business networking is a term that refers to meeting other business owners, potential suppliers, or other professionals who have business experiences to help you grow your business.
With the rise in virtual networking, there are even more opportunities to meet local business owners at networking events, and many events are free to attend. Here are ten ways you can make the most of the opportunity.
1. Have a strategy
Think about what you want to achieve. If you are new to networking, visit as many events as possible.
2. Get out of your comfort zone
It’s only natural to gravitate towards people that you already know, but networking is all about meeting people outside your circle. If you find yourself in this situation, scan the room for people you have yet to meet and facilitate the opportunity for them to join in the conversation.
Look out for new people and remember how you first felt when you turned up somewhere new. A friendly introduction goes a long way.
3. Keep attending
Networking is a slow burn, and it takes a while to build up trust within a group. Attend regularly, help others, and have an effective follow-up. Networking is about building up your network and relationships. You might not immediately get business from an event, but one person you speak to might open several doors.
Take an interest in others and find out what they want to achieve from the meeting.
- See if their objectives or values match yours and find some common ground
- Can you help them through your own network contacts connections or make introductions that might be of interest either from a supplier need, a client perspective, or a strategic partnership?
5. Follow up
It’s not what happens at the event, it’s what you do after that is most important. Be proactive in follow-ups.
Be proactive and use social media to connect with people you have met. LinkedIn is the most popular platform for this and can act as your virtual business card.
Are you achieving your objectives? How much business is generated through this activity either directly or by introductions or referrals? Compare your findings against the cost of investments and be sure to factor in your own cost per hour.
7. Dress to impress
Looking and feeling good is vital for your networking confidence. This doesn’t mean you have to wear a suit – just appropriate, clean attire for your line of business. A professionally produced name badge worn just below your right-hand shoulder will help others to approach you easily and avoid any awkwardness in having to recall your name, which will also help with introductions.
- Shake hands with people and make eye contact
- Smile and ensure your body language is open and friendly
- Be memorable for the right reasons