The Art of Networking
Networking is a critical part of growing any business. It’s through networking that people are able to make connections with potential customers and others in their field, which helps them grow their sphere of influence and get their name known. While many people understand the importance of networking, few people have the skills mastered that allow them to make full use of all its benefits. Here are some tips to allow even the greenest entrepreneur to master the art of networking.
Creating an Effective 30-Second Pitch
Once you’ve begun to develop your business, one of the most important marketing techniques you should master is the 30-second pitch. A 30-second pitch is a brief, easily understood summary of the business that you can give when you meet a new connection.
No one wants to listen to a long-winded explanation when they meet someone new. It will drive them away and make you seem less interested in forming connections and more interested in just selling. The pitch instead should be a brief introduction to what you do and intrigue the listener into learning more. Work on developing a pitch that’s informative, but also informal in tone and easy to work into a conversation.
Mastering the Business Card
Like the 30-second sales pitch, the business card should be something that helps to capture a person’s eye and tells them all they need to know about your business. Networking events typically involve exchanging countless business cards and speaking with numerous people. It can be difficult to keep track of everyone. Once the event is over, people will sit down and look at the business cards they collected. The ones they can connect with a face or that spark interest are the ones most likely to be remembered and entered into a contact list.
Make sure your contact information is easy to use and displayed prominently. The headline on the card should capture the essence of the business. Consider using a unique design that complements the card and represents you (or the person you’re creating cards for). The more ways the card can stand out from the crowd, without being too crowded or distracting, the better.
Widening the Circle of Potential Connections
Networking is not just about meeting potential clients. It’s also about meeting others within your own field. Others within the field can serve as advisers and mentors, helping new businesses to succeed. We all have different strengths and weaknesses. Developing a strong network within the field can lead to recommendations, partnerships on projects, and referrals from others whose strengths complement your own.
When working on creating this branch of the network, however, it’s also important to reciprocate. Few people will be interested in getting to know and work with a person who doesn’t seek to help others, too.
Forming Genuine Connections
The purpose of networking is not to offer a 30-second commercial that others will forget once it’s out of sight. Networking is about developing genuine relationships.
When you take a person’s business card, make sure you also take the time to follow up with them later on. Send cards for holidays and anniversaries. Make it a point to check in and make occasional conversations about topics outside of work to get to know the actual person.
People are more likely to want to do business with those they feel a personal connection with. Taking the time to develop these personal relationships can help improve your reputation and ensure you’re viewed in a positive light by others in the business world.
Networking is an important part of developing a business. It’s how many entrepreneurs gain mentors, friends, and business leads. Effective networking requires the ability to properly advertise your business while still maintaining an open and friendly demeanor. Keeping the above tips in mind will get you started on the exciting path of building a wide and complete network.