As a small business owner, one of the most important ways you can grow, find new customers, and increase your knowledge of your industry is to attend various networking events. Thankfully, every community typically has local business expos, state sponsored business events, and special networking events for a specific group of people. If you are a small business owner, make sure you attend these networking events as often as possible. Additionally, employ the following strategies in order to make sure you get the most of the event.
As a business owner, it’s not uncommon to have a million things going on at any one time. That means your schedule can get hectic, and it’s easy to mix things up. In fact, I recently had a friend who was excited to attend a local women’s business networking event only to show up and find out that she had marked the ending time as the starting time of the event. She missed the whole thing! While it seems like this might not happen to you, when you have a busy schedule, it’s easy to overlook tiny details. When you are ready to attend a scheduled event, double and triple check your calendar.
Prepare For The Event
The worst thing you can do if you want to get the most out of an event is simply show up without any preparation. Make sure you review the event details so you understand what to wear (business casual is a great go-to if you are not sure), if food will be served, and who will be there. If possible, take some time to learn about businesses that you know will be there, and be prepared to ask questions that will help you learn more, gain additional clients, and grow your business. Additionally, make sure to bring a pile of business cards. It’s an easy and traditional way to quickly exchange information.
It’s true that the early bird gets the worm. When you come a bit early, you will have time to familiarize yourself with the schedule, and also plan how you will execute your goals.
Put On Your Friendly Face
Remember that networking is all about meeting new people. This means you have to get out of your comfort zone and talk to people. Remember to ask people questions about them in order to find out what they do, rather than just talking about you the whole time. The more people you meet, the more potential new contacts you will find.
After The Event
When the event ends, your networking is not over. In fact, this is the perfect time to nurture your new contacts. I like to send everyone a quick e-mail, and/or connect with new faces on LinkedIn as soon as the event is over. That way, you and your business is still fresh in their mind. You can also feel free to call them to schedule a business lunch.