Let’s face it. Not every one of us is good at networking. Entrepreneurs can either be introverted or extroverted or a little bit of both. Some of us may be more comfortable doing social networking than face-to-face networking. However, we can all agree that networking is a crucial part of having your own business.
There are many misconceptions about face to face networking. Here are just a few:
You have to meet every single person in the room and hand them your card.
Yes, it would be lovely to meet everyone, however, if that is your goal for an event, you’ll most certainly find yourself rushing and looking uninterested in the other person. That will be a big turnoff for others, and they’ll lose interest in talking to you. This is not the time to show off your expensive looking business card, which honestly won’t make a difference.
You have to impart information about you and your business at the quickest possible time with the most number of people.
Wrong! The best networking is being an active listener. Express genuine interest in the other person. Networking gives you an opportunity to learn and obtain precious connections at no cost. People won’t remember every detail about you, but they sure will remember how you made them feel. Share your knowledge and make them want to meet you again. It’s about give and take. Keep that in mind, and it will give you an edge over others and may lead to future meetups with the other attendees.
You will find clients at your networking event.
Chances are you probably won’t. Networking is an opportunity for others to get to know you and what you offer. Therefore, they get to tell others who may be in need of your products or services about you.
You have to attend as many networking events as you possibly can.
Networking is about building business relationships with others. You don’t need to sign up for every single networking event in your industry. Ask yourself what you want to gain from each event? Is it to grow your clientele? Find mentors? Establish yourself as an expert? Before you spend precious time, which is a very valuable commodity for an entrepreneur, know your goals. Plan your networking efforts. Make that precious time count. Otherwise, you’ll be shooting in the dark and hoping that it will give you the returns that you expect.
You have to focus on your specific industry.
Some businesses fail to think outside the box. While it’s good to have connections within your industry, it’s also good to check different industries. The reason being is that attendees will not be threatened by your presence. They won’t see you as competition. You can share with them how your knowledge and expertise can benefit them in their particular field. Say for example you are a general contractor like myself. While it’s good to attend networking events and conferences for remodelers, builders, and developers, it may not be a bad idea to network with insurance agents, realtors, architects, designers, and property management companies.
Networking does not only pertain to an organized event. Networking can be as simple as talking with your friends, neighbors, colleagues, and other parents at your kids’ schools. Volunteering at your favorite charity or cause can be a networking opportunity as well. A word of caution though — please don’t sell in every single conversation you have. Build trust and confidence. Be that person everyone wants to talk to because you are insightful, caring, and helpful. After all, people buy from people they know and trust.
About the Author
Maria Nicholson is the president of Project Build Construction, the #1 rated general contracting company in Laguna Hills, CA. As a female president in a majority male-dominated industry, she is used to being the underdog. In her free time, she enjoys helping small businesses and supporting other female entrepreneurs.