Seven Tips for Successful Business Networking
Business networking events are valuable resources to those who wish to learn more about their industry or connect with other like-minded professionals. Whether you’re looking to expand your business or gain employment, business networking events put you in touch with the key business players in your community.
Follow these seven tips to get the most out of your next business networking event:
1. Research: Don’t walk into a business networking event blind – do a little research beforehand. Look to see what the topic is and who’s attending. The key is to have a basic working knowledge of the topic being covered. This makes conversation at a business networking event much easier. You can typically get an idea of who is attending by searching on Twitter or by taking a look at the event’s Meetup page.
2. Practice, Practice, Practice: Many decisions-makers frequent business networking events, so have your elevator pitch perfected. Most business networking events allow for a short introduction to the group. Start off with your name, the company you work for, and your role within the company. Keep this first sentence short. Next, plan to tell the group why people do business with you or your company and why you’re there. Write out exactly what you’re going to say and read it out loud until you’ve memorized it.
3. Bring Business Cards: Before you head out to a business networking event, make sure you have plenty of business cards. Have at least 15-20 for each event. You might not hand out all these cards, but it looks much better than writing your name and number on a cocktail napkin. There are plenty of printers and websites that will print business cards at a low cost. Your business card should include your name, what you do, phone number, and email at the basic level. If appropriate, include the address to your website or blog, your Twitter handle, and your LinkedIn profile.
4. Optimize Your Social Networking Profiles: Make sure your LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter profiles are updated on a regular basis.
- Create a public profile on LinkedIn and fill your profile with descriptions of your past job experience, education, and all of the relevant skills you have. Grow your LinkedIn network by adding all the business professionals you know.
- Make sure your Facebook profile is clean. A good standard to keep in mind is to imagine that your grandmother is the one reading all your status updates and looking at your pictures. Do you think she’d disapprove of those pictures from your buddy’s bachelor party? Chances are, other business professionals won’t be amused, either. Delete all your questionable photos and updates before you attend a business networking event to avoid embarrassment. Keep it clean and keep it professional.
- Twitter can be another helpful tool to have. It shows others what your interests are and that you’re engaged in conversation on certain topics. Many business networking groups use Twitter to send out important information about the next event. If set up properly, you can have your tweets sent to LinkedIn and Facebook at the same time.
5. Start A Blog: There is no better way to add your voice to the conversation than by starting a blog. Write about relevant topics, like what business networking events you’re planning to attend, and what some of the key takeaways were from each business networking event you’ve attended. Starting a blog may sound like a daunting task, but there are many blogging platforms out there that are very simple to use (Tumblr, Blogger, and WordPress, for example). Once you have your blog up and running, be sure to provide links to all your social networking profiles. Conversely, make sure there are links back to your blog on each of your profiles.
6. Get Out There!: Don’t limit yourself to just one business networking event. Get out to as many business networking events as you can. Many of them are free! You’ll start to notice a lot of the same faces and they’ll start to notice you. Those who get noticed get the business and the jobs.
7. Follow Up: Following up after each business networking event is the absolute most important thing to do. Connect with all of the people you meet on the appropriate social networks and don’t be afraid to send a short email or even give a quick phone call.
About Terry Bean
As a professional speaker, social media pro, & relationship marketing expert, Terry’s passion is helping others succeed. He holds clients accountable for their goals while lending his expertise in business networking, sales & marketing, communications, corporate culture & more.