Things you need to know to network in your industry

 It doesn’t matter if you have an amazing business idea, outstanding products, or if you are Einstein.  If you don’t make connections, your business will go nowhere.

You’ve heard the cliche “it doesn’t matter what you know, but who you know.”  Well, that’s true.  Making business connections is so important, and building relationships is crucial to your business.

So what if you don’t know anyone in a business or entrepreneurial setting?  Then it’s time to learn how to network!

My Best Networking Tips for Networking Events

If you want to learn how to network effectively, think about these things before you go to your next event:

Be Yourself.  Not everyone is going to like you, and that’s okay.  You need to be yourself and build real relationships with the people you meet.  If you put on an act while you are networking, your new associates will be sadly surprised when they end up meeting the real you that they didn’t expect.  Don’t surprise people.  Just be yourself.

Relax.  I know, easier said than done.  Going to your first few networking events is scary and uncomfortable.  Likely, that will show, but it’s okay.  Try to relax and be yourself.  Laugh a little, even if it’s at yourself!

Practice Your 10-Second Intro.  You should be able to introduce who you are what company you are with, and what you do, all in about ten seconds.  If the speaker asks you on the spot to introduce yourself to the group, you should be able to do this seamlessly and effortlessly.  Practice your 10-second self-pitch.  It’s harder than you’d think when you are put on the spot.  But when you practice ahead of time, you look calm and composed when you introduce yourself.

Get in the Conversation.  You can’t exactly meet people if you stand in the corner alone.  But all of these people seem to know each other, and that’s scary!  Don’t let it be scary.  Hopefully there will be a savior in your new group that will come up to you and talk to you first.  But if not, don’t be afraid to jump right in.  Because here’s the thing: these people didn’t come to this event to catch up with someone they’ve known for 10 years.  They came to meet new faces.  You are the new face.  Use it.

Don’t Try to Sell.  This is honestly the biggest mistake I see from newbies learning how to network.  They come out of the gate trying to sell to people at the networking event.  It turns people off, trust me.  It’s perfectly fine to tell people what you do (that’s the point), but don’t try to close a deal.  You’re just making new friends here.

Have Business Cards.  This should go without saying, but I have to include this simple step in my networking tips.  I’ve too often seen and met aspiring entrepreneurs who don’t have a card or any contact info available.  And at the end of the night, I’ve completely forgotten their name, so I can’t even Google them.  Even if it’s a simple card with a name and email address, have something.

Ask for Business Cards.  While we’re on the subject of business cards, you should be asking for business cards from everyone you meet.  Even if you don’t think they would be a good fit, ask for their card and make a mental note of them.  You never know who will come in handy as a contact in the future, and having a face to put to a name gets a better foot in the door than a cold call.

Follow Up.  Finally, after the networking event is over, be sure to follow up with your new acquaintances via email.  If it’s a daytime event, follow up later in the day or the next day.  If it’s an evening event, wait till the next day to follow up.  You want the follow up to be fresh, but not too pushy.  A simple “it was great to meet you” and “I hope we connect more in the future” is plenty.  Again, no need to sell here.  If you have talked more in depth, address your conversation in the email to make it more personal.

 New to Business?  Come up with a Creative Business Name!

How to Network in College

If you are still in college and already starting to learn how to network, you are in a great position.  College is great for networking.  

Not sure how to network in college?  Get involved.

Get involved in meaningful groups that are interesting to you.  They need to be interesting to you so you will stay involved and active.  These don’t always have to be related to business.  I met some of my best friends and great contacts via the Texas A&M Waterski Team.  Not exactly business related, but a bunch of us happened to be business majors or ended up as entrepreneurs.  

Building relationships is what it’s all about, in college and after.  As you build more meaningful relationships with others, you will intrinsically become more trustworthy, which translates into more opportunities for everyone.

Another way you can network in college is by attending presentations put on by the college.  Oftentimes, there is some form of Q&A or “meet the presenter” after a presentation.  So check out your college’s event calendar and keep an eye out for interesting topics coming your way.

 How to Get Involved in Your Industry

Once you have an established industry, whether you have a business or are looking to get into one, you should start getting involved in your industry.  

One great way to get involved in your industry is to attend networking events for your industry.  This exposes you to the industry and gets your name out there to your peers.

Another way to get involved in your industry is to join industry associations.  If you do a Google search for your industry and the word “association,” you are very likely to find some organizations that specialize in your industry.  This is a great way to gain expertise and meet more of your peers in the market.  These associations often hold networking events and workshops to help you succeed.  

How to Find Networking Events

So, we’ve got all of these networking tips, I suppose we should find a networking event!

The best way to find a networking event in your area is to get on Facebook.  Search for Networking and your city, then look in Groups.  There are networking groups in every big city.  Join a few of those and see what they are all about.

Another great way to find networking events is to use Meetup.com.  Meetup is like the Tinder of social groups.  It has groups for all different interest types, not just business and networking.  It helps connect people who have similar interests and lets you easily organize events.  It’s a great resource to find networking events near you!

Now that you know how to network, go out there and put it to use!  

 

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Stephanie Yarbrough

Stephanie Yarbrough

Business Strategist

Hi! I’m Stephanie, small business strategist, business planning superhero, and owner of Portage Consulting.  I live for hiking and snow skiing ...oh, and helping small business and startups develop growth strategies and achieve financial success.

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Stephanie Yarbrough

Stephanie Yarbrough

Business Strategist

Hi! I’m Stephanie, small business strategist, business planning superhero, and owner of Portage Consulting.  I live for hiking and snow skiing ...oh, and helping small business and startups develop growth strategies and achieve financial success.

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