Networking 101: Get the Most Out of Industry Events as a Business Owner

NetworkingMost job seekers and entry-level workers understand the impact a good connection can make on their careers; the same can be applied to business owners. Networking is a necessity, even after you’ve successfully launched your business. In some cases, ‘who you know’ could lead to new business ventures or an increase in your client roster. Following a few networking guidelines can significantly expand your list of contacts, and potentially connect you with your next business partner or client.

 

One of the first steps you want to take when beginning to network is to attend industry events. Rather than forwarding those industry e-vites to your executives and managers, make an appearance yourself. Research the backgrounds of the speakers so you are prepared to talk to them before they address the crowd, rather than afterward when people will probably gather around for the chance to get a word in.

 

Remember to mingle with everyone, from the top-notch executives to the interns, especially if you’re hiring. Even a small connection can make a big impact on your business. While you’re working the room, concentrate more on what you can do to help every connection you make, and less on finding the person who can help you. This way, you get to know what is going on with other industry members and their businesses. Listening is just as important as telling your story; you will know who to turn to if you know who your contacts are.

 

Maintain the mindset that every interaction is an opportunity to network. A conversation that started with “is this seat taken” can end in setting up a meeting with a potential investor. Even if you don’t meet a new client or investor at an event, it is still important to follow up with the connections you made. Send a LinkedIn invitation or an email letting them know what a pleasure it was to meet them and touch on a few of the details of your conversation. They may not be able to do anything for you directly, but there is a possibility that they know someone who can help.

 

Networking should not stop when you become an entrepreneur or business owner. Actually, this is when the real work begins. You should always be on the lookout for ways that your company can advance. Surrounding yourself with a network of like-minded people can inspire you to achieve your business goals and keep up with the changes in your industry.
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