Sponsored by The UPS Store
Face-to-face networking can be one of the most important elements to help grow your business. But building a strong network is no small feat, and oftentimes business owners don’t know where to begin.
Earlier this month, SCORE hosted a webinar moderated by entrepreneur and author Ramon Ray and The UPS Store to discuss how every business owner can use networking to grow their business.
Look outside your comfort zone
The first step to growing your network is to stretch yourself to get outside of your comfort zone. The hardest part of a networking event is initiating conversation. Once a conversation has begun, things often flow naturally. It’s important to remember to:
- Start with a warm, genuine smile.
- Use people’s nametags as a segue into conversation.
- Begin with a question.
Networking takes time and patience. This time should not be seen as something taking away from your business, but rather a crucial aspect of building a strong brand and message.
Find your balance
Finding the right connection might take a while, so it’s important to balance networking quickly to maximize the number of people you meet with networking smartly to connect with the right people.
Networking should be a give-and-take relationship. It’s important to listen genuinely to the other person and consider how you might be able to contribute to their future success. Be sure to save any substantial discussion for follow-up, as you should refrain from throwing everything at them all at once.
To ensure success at a networking event, having a plan of action in place beforehand is essential. Be sure to:
- Arrive early and get to know the host before the conference begins.
- Put together a list of who will be attending the conference and identify the key players. Note who you would like to connect with to make sure you set aside time to do so.
- Pick a great seat – front, center.
- Use the event’s app – schedule meetings ahead of time, use event hashtag, connect with people after the event who you didn’t have a chance to meet.
- Establish a goal – what do you want to get out of the networking event?
Make your mark
Business cards are a definite must when attending a networking event. Business cards are a useful tool to connect with people more quickly and efficiently. When you receive a business card at an event, it can often help to jot down some notes on the back of the card to make sure you remember what you talked to that person about when you follow-up with them later.
Another communication tool to have ready when networking is an elevator pitch illustrating your business idea in three minutes or less. Make sure your elevator pitch is concise and articulate. Don’t try to be cute – get the point across in a succinct and creative manner.
A good rule of thumb is to hand out your business card and any other deliverables directly after delivering your elevator pitch. The UPS Store provides services to help you create such items, including banners, business cards, brochures, flyers, and much more.
Finally, it’s important to follow-up quickly with your contacts to remain top-of-mind.
- Send a quick email expressing that you enjoyed meeting them. Try to reflect on a part of your conversation that was most memorable and include that reference in your message.
- Ask your contact to grab a coffee or lunch to continue a more in-depth conversation.
- Link with them on LinkedIn.
- Try to reconnect and check-in with contacts frequently.
Whether you’re an expert networker or just starting out, engaging with new people through networking events and opportunities is an excellent way to expand the business and build your brand.
If you would like to learn more about how you can improve your networking skills, tune in and listen to the webinar, sponsored by SCORE and The UPS Store.
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This post was sponsored by The UPS Store. Please be aware that we can only promote advertising from companies that we feel we can legitimately recommend to our readers.