Networking Tips for Entrepreneurs: You Can Be a Star!

Networking Tips for Entrepreneurs

Networking Tips for Entrepreneurs

Networking Tips for Entrepreneurs

Networking is a crucial skill for an entrepreneur. It is all about you developing and using contacts for business beyond the initial meeting. Networking helps you (1) build relationships and (2) build your status as an authority. Have you ever noticed that some celebrities  are everywhere?  You can't open a magazine or watch a television show without spotting them!  They have great brands and therefore, great visibility. However, you don't have to be a celebrity to have the same kind of star power in your market.  Networking with the right people will help build your credibility, visibility, and authority. This article will discuss how using a few proven strategies, you too can be seen everywhere!

Eight Networking Tips for Entrepreneurs

A recent article in Entrepreneur Magazine gave eight tips for effective networking.  They are:

  • Try one or two new groups per month. You can attend almost any organization's meetings a few times before you must join. This is another way to stretch yourself and make a new set of contacts. Determine what business organizations and activities you would best fit into. It may be the chamber of commerce, the arts council, a museum society, a civic organization, a baseball league, a computer club or the PTA. Attend every function you can that synergizes your goals and customer/prospect interaction.
  • Carry your business cards with you everywhere. After all, you never know when you might meet a key contact, and if you don't have your cards with you, you lose out. Take your cards to church, the gym, parties, the grocery store–even on walks with the dog.
  • Don't make a beeline for your seat. Frequently, you'll see people at networking groups sitting at the dinner table staring into space–half an hour before the meal is due to start. Why are they sitting alone? Take full advantage of the valuable networking time before you have to sit down. Once the meeting starts, you won't be able to mingle.
  • Don't sit by people you know. Mealtime is a prime time for meeting new people. You may be in that seat for several hours, so don't limit your opportunities by sitting with your friends. This is a wonderful chance to get to know new people on either side of you. Sure, it's more comfortable to hobnob with familiar faces. But remember, you are spending precious time and money to attend this event. Get your money's worth; you can talk to your friends some other time.
  • Get active. People remember and do business with leaders. Don't just warm a chair–get involved and join a committee or become a board member. If you don't have time, volunteer to help with hospitality at the door or checking people in. This gives you a reason to talk to others, gets you involved in the inner workings of the group, and provides more visibility.
  • Be friendly and approachable. Pretend you are hosting the event. Make people feel welcome. Find out what brought them there, and see if there's any way you can help them. Introduce them to others, make business suggestions or give them a referral. Not only will you probably make a friend, but putting others at ease eliminates self-consciousness. A side benefit: What goes around comes around. If you make the effort to help others, you'll soon find people helping you.
  • Set a goal for what you expect from each meeting. Your goals can vary from meeting to meeting. Some examples might be: learning from the speaker's topic, discovering industry trends, looking for new prospects or connecting with peers. If you work out of your home, you may find your purpose is simply to get out and talk to people face to face. Focusing your mind on your goal before you even walk into the event keeps you on target.
  • Be willing to give to receive. Networking is a two-way street. Don't expect new contacts to shower you with referrals and business unless you are equally generous. Follow up on your contacts; keep in touch; always share information or leads that might benefit them. You'll be paid back tenfold for your thoughtfulness.

If you implemented half of these tips you would see the effectiveness of your networking increase exponentially. Just think about all the new people and potential clients that you would meet. We go to several networking events during the  month. Either together or separately. It is our experience that practicing Tip #8-Be willing to give to receive, is crucial to successful networking. Your thoughtfulness will always make a positive impression.

Sometimes It is About Who You Know

As an entrepreneur you want to make use of industry specific networking. For example, if you are trying to build credibility and authority in the health and nutrition niche, you may want to partner with someone in the fitness niche. Your association with a known expert can build your reputation and increase the awareness of your business.

Sometimes who you know is very important. Those important people can open doors that you never expected. Don't worry about using people. Networking is an accepted business practice.  Some business people may wonder if you didn't ask for referrals. So ask! Just remember, that when you are as important as they are, you will pay it forward.

It is good and smart, however to make it worth your networking partner's time and effort by offering them a benefit.  For example, you could send them referrals or market their goods and services.  It is all about helping each other.  Pretty soon you will be the recognized expert and others will be eager to partner with you.  You will be the star!

How have you used networking to help you build your authority?  Has networking helped your business grow?  Let us know about your experiences.  Leave a comment below.



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