Networking plays a vital role in a business’ success. Start-ups specifically should maximize their networks to build relationships, expand their knowledge, and to let others know about their business.
Expanding your network can be done by attending seminars, professional gatherings, and other events that are to be attended by people that you want to connect with. Although this method has proven to be successful, approaching and meeting someone new can be difficult. We suggest starting with your family, friends, colleagues, and groups you’re belonging to.
Here are some tips to get you started:
Focus on developing relationships rather than selling
You have to remember that networking is about building relationship and trust. Be genuine in your approach and keep the conversation fun. More often than not, people want to do business with someone they get along with or whose company they enjoy. Focus on getting to know the person and let them know how you can be of help to them. Refrain from doing a hard sell and look out for potential relationship opportunities instead.
Always be prepared
As the saying goes “Fail to plan and you plan to fail”. This is so true in many ways. When attending an event or meeting someone, remember to bring plenty of business cards. This is one of the most valuable tools to help you in your quest to expand your network. Hand them confidently to the people you meet especially to those who show interest in your business. You can also bring other marketing materials such as brochures or postcards. Don’t forget to prepare an elevator pitch or a short description of you and what you do.
This is something you shouldn’t forget. Follow up. So you’ve already started by opening up a conversation with your potential network. This should not end here. The next step is to do a follow-up. Don’t forget to ask the person for contact details so you can stay in touch. This can be through phone, email, or social networks. Contact them the next day to remind them of your business offers and a reference to your discussion so he/she will remember you.