When marketing your business, there are plenty of things you need to have in place. You’ll want to iron out your digital marketing strategy, get your social channels on point, and maybe you’re even thinking about paid campaigns. Amongst all these big ideas, many entrepreneurs forget the value of good, old-fashioned networking. Networking is a low-cost and effective way to spread the word about your business, build your professional network, and meet valuable mentors who can help you develop as an entrepreneur.
Even if you don’t think of yourself as a great networker, our tips will have you ready to make the most out of your next networking opportunity.
Why is networking important?
A strong network is one of the key components that can make a business successful in the long term. Networking provides access to opportunities and information that you may not find any other way. In casual, face-to-face conversation, it’s much easier to make connections and connect in a way that isn’t possible over email or in structured meetings.
One online marketing survey found that most respondents used networking (68.8 per cent) and referrals (54.3 per cent) as marketing methods, and according to Forbes, 78 per cent of startups view networking as essential to their success.
People are more likely to remember and support your business if they know and like you, rather than if you’re just another email in their inbox. It also gives you the chance to be more persuasive, since in a face-to-face meeting people convey much more through their body language, facial expressions, tone, and other subtle cues.
16 tips for networking success
Even if you don’t consider yourself a natural when it comes to networking, it may surprise you at how much your business can benefit from making it a regular habit of getting out there and expanding your professional circle. Having a strong network can help you navigate the common business challenges that many entrepreneurs face.
Try implementing some of these 16 tips next time you’re at a networking event to help grow your business.
1. Attend local networking events
If you don’t know where to start and don’t have many connections in your industry or community yet, a fool-proof way to network is at a designated networking event. Your local chamber or commerce or other local business clubs and associations will likely host these types of events.
If there is a professional associated with your field in your area, that can be another great way to discover networking events. Finally, look for local business Slack communities or groups on Facebook, as many of them organize in-person meetups as well.
2. Prepare before your networking event