Whether you're looking for a job or building your business,networking is of vital importance in this world. You are more likely to sign a contract with a new client, based on who you know, rather than what you know. People do business with individuals and businesses they know, like, and trust.
Attending regular networking events, like the NAWBO mixers or our educational workshops, are vital for building relationships with other business owners. Meeting people at face to face networking events creates lasting impressions in the minds of people you meet. Occasionally, you may get the business owner who wants to show up to sell, sell, sell, but that isn't what these events are about. These events are about building relationships, receiving mutual benefits, learning how you can serve each other, and building contacts.
Participating in a mixer, or other networking event, gives you the chance to relax and socialize, all while building the "know, like and trust" factor mentioned above.
We recently shared an article from the Huffington Post on our NAWBO Facebook page, titled The Importance ofNetworking (and How to Do It Well), by Madeline Bell. She offered four tips to get the most out of networking:
- Be intentional - networking isn't about how many business cards you can collect, it's about finding a networking opportunity that serves a purpose or helps meet a goal.
- Have an icebreaker - walking up to a stranger and starting a conversation isn't always easy. Having a question to ask is helpful. "What brings you to this event?" Or "tell me about you and what you do" are great icebreakers.
- Be open about your career goals - we often don't want to be pushy or disingenuous about our goals when networking, so we don't speak up. It's beneficial for you to share what your business requires, or what you're looking to accomplish. You never know who might be a solution to your challenge!
- Follow up - networking isn't over when you leave the event. If you had a great conversation with someone at a networking event, send them a note or email and remark about your interaction with them. Mention something specific that you enjoyed about speaking with the person. If you offered to connect them with one of your contacts, follow through. Continuing to build relationships in the follow up is vital.