4 simple business networking tips for growing your company
Networking is simple, not easy. Picture the last networking event you went to. It was probably a room full of professionals all looking to connect and grow their business, their career or their professional support network. If everyone wants the same things, then why can it be so difficult to make meaningful connections?
The following business networking tips are simple ideas to make you a more effective networker.
Tip #1: Prepare your story
It’s been shown in many research studies that our brains love a good story. This is true even in professional settings. A good story can help us better understand a company’s mission statement, convince us why we need a business’s service and help us make meaningful business connections.
Being a successful networker starts with finding a way to tell your story that shows why you do what you do and how you can help others be successful in their goals.
For example, instead of answering: “I’m a lawyer,” or “I own a coffee shop” you can say:
“I’m an employment attorney. I help companies and small businesses with legal issues involving employment.”
“I own a coffee shop in East Nashville. We’ve become a hip spot for entrepreneurs and contractors to work and meet with clients.”
Prepare now so when someone invariably asks you “What do you do?” you will have something more compelling to share.
Tip #2: Find the right event
There are countless opportunities for business networking in Nashville. You can find a networking event almost any day of the week somewhere in the region. But are you going to the right networking events?
Another important business networking tip is to find events that match your goals. Think about what you hope to gain from networking.
If you want to grow your business, find events that are likely to attract professionals in your target market. If your target market is women over fifty, it’s probably not going to be productive to attend an event geared towards young men.
If you want to grow your career, find events that cater to professionals in your industry. There are plenty of industry-specific networking events like tradeshows, training classes and more. Check with organizations that focus on your industry to find good options.
If you want to increase your professional support network, find events that will bring together people you’ll have something in common with. One good example is YP Nashville for young professionals or Nashville CABLE for women.
A good resource for finding networking events in all these categories is the Chamber. By joining the Chamber, you will have access to exclusive networking opportunities that can help you grow your business. Learn more about the benefits of membership here.
Tip #3: Engage
Once you’re at the event, our next business networking tip is to actively engage with the other attendees. To do so, start by arriving early. If you are early, it will be easier to approach others as groups will not have already formed.
To approach someone, ask a simple question. “What do you do?” is a great one and will hopefully give you a chance to share your prepared story about your own business. A simple “May I join you?” or “What brings you to the event today?” are also great options.
Another important aspect of engaging is to listen just as much, if not more than, you talk. Don’t overpower the conversation by talking about yourself the whole time. Give everyone a chance to speak and really listen actively to what they’re saying.
Focusing on learning about others, as well as sharing your own story, is a great way to ensure you’re building significant connections.
Tip #4: Follow-through
Ideally, the event is just the beginning of your networking efforts. One often-overlooked business networking tip is to follow-through on the connections you make at the event by reaching out later on.
Start by asking anyone you feel you connected with the best way to get in touch with them, whether that’s through email, phone or social media.
Then comes the hard part for many people – reach out to that person and extend an offer to connect further. It can be nerve-wracking but remember: they have similar goals around networking and want to connect with new people too.
If you don’t follow-through on your networking efforts, it will be difficult to make significant business relationships.
These business networking tips are simple but may not come easily to you. That’s okay, you just need to practice your networking like any other skill. A great way to practice is by attending one of our free networking events. You can learn more about upcoming events here on our Event Calendar.
Joining the Chamber is a great way to feel like you belong in the Nashville area business community. Learn more about membership by filling out the form below.