If you are looking for new business clients, ideas, or opportunities, you might need to get out of your comfort zone and engage in business networking from time to time. Most people believe that networking is a waste of time and energy, and only those on the top can get business. The truth is that you need to keep an eye on your marketplace and competition, as well as the latest technology trends, therefore, networking is essential for all businesses.
Find a Local Group
To start networking in your area, you might have to find a club or group. Look on LinkedIn and other social media sites, or simply conduct a Google search. Ask your friends if they know of any networking opportunities. Check with local business centers providing training and education to see if they have any events organized.
Join Industry Organizations
If you want to get the best networking opportunities, you might want to join your industry’s local, state, or national organization. Your membership will come with free advice and networking opportunities, and your company might even be highlighted on the website or in leaflets and newsletters distributed to members.
Turn Up and Shine
When you plan your first networking event, you need to know exactly how to introduce your business and how to talk to people in a professional manner. No matter how laid back the group is, a suit will never hurt. You can find a way of breaking the ice by asking questions about other people’s business, instead of starting to talk about yourself immediately. Check who the leaders are and introduce yourself, ask questions, and engage with everyone.
You can never have too many cards and leaflets when arriving at a networking event. Your business card is your shop window for people who exchange hundreds of cards each week. Get a special Alpha Card ordered for the occasion, so your potential customers and business partners can remember you. Make sure that you create eye-grabbing graphics on your promotional materials, and you personally hand over leaflets, instead of simply leaving them on the table.
The most important thing about networking is the ability to follow up. Once you have collected business cards, you can send out follow-up messages, connect with businesses through social media, or let them know of a special offer.
Take Notes and Spot Opportunities
When you are at the networking event, you might get carried away and forget what you saw and heard. Learning from other business owners is a bonus benefit of networking. If there are speakers at the event, take a note of their name and website, and check them out later. Write down business ideas shared with you, and look through them in a few days to brainstorm new marketing and business development opportunities.
Business networking can help you learn about new methods, ways of doing business, and your competition as well. It can open your eyes to new opportunities, and present you with an insight you would not possess otherwise.