Here at the Brownlow Business Centre, we know that networking is key to raising awareness about you, your business, and your products and services.
Over the past few months, we have attended many networking events; some formal and others more casual. No matter the setting or the number of attendees, networking yourself and your business is important for success. Networking enables you to meet other like-minded business professionals. Ever hear the saying “You scratch my back, i’ll scratch yours”? Well it most definitely applies to networking. A quick chat and exchange of business cards can lead to a brand new connection with someone who may pass your name along in the future, creating a sale or even better…… a life long customer! And who doesn’t want a life long customer? NO ONE, that’s who 🙂
Folks, my advice is: look for local networking events in your community, there are tons of FREE events going on weekly & monthly so networking doesn’t have to be an expense. FYI we host our own *FREE* networking events here at the centre on the third Tuesday of every month 5-7 pm! So grab some business cards and put yourself out there!
If you’re apprehensive about networking (some of us are more shy than others) check out these helpful tips
1. Show up early – we can all agree that being punctual gives a better first impression than being late. Being early also gives you the chance to start conversations with people before groups have been formed. Great for those of us who don’t feel comfortable jumping into a conversation that’s already begun.
2. Approach others – try and avoid being a wallflower, hanging out in the corners of a room. Take the initiative to approach someone first by simply introducing yourself and asking what they do.
3. Avoid trying to make a sale right off the bat – networking should be used as a relationship builder not to make sales. Keep your conversations light and informal and don’t push a sale right away. The idea here is to make a connection with someone that may result in a sale down the road.
4. Be positive & SMILE! – Smiling will make you approachable! No one likes a Debbie Downer or Oscar the Grouch. You should use valuable networking time to showcase the positives of your business and achievements you have experienced. Try not to complain or go into detail about negative experiences related to your business when trying to
5. Follow up – This is the most important piece of advice, and also what many people forget to do. If you’re like us, you attend a different networking event every month, sometimes every week! So you meet a lot of people and sometimes its hard to remember who is who and what they do. If you meet someone of interest, follow up with them! Take a few moments and send off a quick follow-up e-mail to people that made an impression, have a product/service relative to you and your business, or who you just enjoyed speaking with. Follow-ups help you from getting lost among all the other faces!
MORAL OF THE STORY: Networking will help you be successful. The End.