Effective Entrepreneur Networking Tips
A big part of being an entrepreneur is networking, especially when you’re green in your industry. It really is all about who know, although what you know should ideally be just as impressive. You want people to know who you are and what you do so you can make money and grow your business.
It is normal not to like networking – many entrepreneurs and small business owners have an aversion to it. Perhaps this is due to the word networking itself, which is not an appealing word that seems to naturally imply self-promotion. Networking should not be viewed as self-promotion and you may be doing it wrong if that is how you go about networking events and meetings.
Networking is meant to build relationships between entrepreneurs and professionals. Although it may be awkward sometimes, a really uncomfortable networking experience is one in which a person is constantly pitching. Networking is not the time to sell your business, but rather show who you are so people will be looking more at your social skills than your business plan.
Pay attention to the way you talk. Do you start most sentences with the words “I” or “my”? Do you turn the conversation back to yourself every chance you get? Do you forget to ask the other person any question about themselves? If so, you may be coming off an egotistical. Instead of monopolizing the conversation topic, use this experience to figure out how your abilities can match up with the other person, to see how you can synergize.
After all, you and everyone else at the networking event are there for the same reason. Everyone is here to build business relationships that will translate into revenue dollars and the event is designed to serve everyone equally. Talk about yourself to show others who you are, and then sit back and quiet down to give another person the spotlight. Be a part of a comfortable environment rather creating a hypercompetitive atmosphere.
Networking is all about quality, not quantity. People at networking events, especially seasoned entrepreneurs, can always spot the person zooming around dropping off business cards while gathering cards before running out. This does not work because not only are you not really meeting anyone, but also created a bad impression. Having a face-to-face conversation at the event opens the door to then communicate on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, further establishing the in-person connection you had made.