Networking – what is it and why is it important in business?
I’m often asked about networking and why it’s so important. I should start with what it is …
“To communicate with others and exchange information that would be useful in your line of work.”
Networking is often undervalued but it’s so important because meeting the right person can literally accelerate your business! Imagine being introduced to a person who loves your business so much they want to invest in it, or they’ve got lots of experience in the industry sector you’re solving a problem for and can give you advice. That’s how powerful networking can be.
So why do some people find it scary?
The thought of going into a room alone and starting conversations with people you don’t know sounds a nightmare to some, but if you’re starting your own business, it’s key to building your knowledge, finding potential customers and potential collaborators.
How to get started in three easy steps.
- Check Eventbrite and meetups for events related to your business or interests.
- Get involved in the local business community such as the council, university, chambers of commerce etc. Check if they have free networking events you can attend locally.
- Check for online networking events or conferences in your industry where there are virtual breakout rooms people can chat in. A Google search should come up with lots of options.
How to prepare yourself.
- Check that your LinkedIn profile is up to date. People will want to connect so make sure your profile is looking good! Top tip *download the LinkedIn app on your phone, click in the search box at the top and a QR code icon appears. If you click on this it generates a QR code that the other person can scan with their camera and it’ll take them straight to your profile. No need for business cards!*
- Think about why you’re going and what you’d like to get out of the event and the people that you’d like to meet.
- How will you introduce yourself? Perhaps you could prepare a 15-second introduction about what you do if it helps. Top Tip *record yourself on your phone and listen back often, it’ll soon stick!*
Get yourself out there!
- Go in with a positive mindset. Turns those nerves into excitement! If you’re still a bit nervous you can take someone with you, but make sure you split up and chat to other people when you get there.
- Stand near drinks and snacks – it gives people something to do and talk about. Remember to smile and say hello 🙂 Listen and be attentive, ask questions and show enthusiasm – think of ways you may be able to help each other (now and in the future).
- Seek out different people to yourself, they could give you a useful perspective or alternative view. And remember to connect!
- On the way home write yourself some notes (on your phone if you’ve not taken a notepad) to remind you about all the follow-ups you want to make and the reason. That’ll make it much easier the next day when you send out emails or LinkedIn requests.
- Remind people that they met you at the networking event and what you spoke about with a follow-up request/link to useful information/questions etc.
- Remember to do the things you said you would for others that you met!
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