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Think Networking Is Awkward or Boring? This Post Is for You!

Networking is an essential part of growing your business. It gives you the opportunity to generate leads, impress investors, and access mentors whose advice can take your company to the next level. Unfortunately, some small business owners don’t take full advantage of the benefits that networking represents because they think it is too intrusive or one of the more mundane aspects of running a business. They’re too intimidated to approach others, they don’t prepare to make a good impression, and/or they don’t follow up with valuable contacts afterward. 

But you are wrong! Networking is not only a great way to expand your business, but it can be a fun way to make money and develop new referral sources! Networking has changed a lot in recent years and you don’t have to be restricted to awkward happy hours and business card exchanges that make many anxious and often provide little value. Instead, try to find fun activities that would interest the clients and referral sources you are hoping to meet. Can’t find anything that qualifies? Get a few professionals together and start your own! I have networked on a cruise ship, a train, at a spa…you get the point. These fun experiences naturally grow relationships and let’s face it – people refer business to people they like.   

The other issue that can affect the value you receive from networking is how you approach it.  Below is a list of 5 tips that can help you make the most out of every networking opportunity.

Tip# 1: Know What You Want to Achieve

There’s more to networking than shaking hands and trading business cards. Those who benefit the most from these events know what they want to achieve before they walk through the door. Are you hoping to meet a mentor? Discover a great supplier who can enhance your business offerings? Keep these goals in mind while you mingle. You can even make it a fun little game. Try to beat your record for the number of people you talk to each time you go out!  Another strategy is to spend quality time with a few quality potential referral sources, nurturing what might become a life-long relationship.

Tip# 2: Know What You Can Offer

Don’t focus solely on how the people you meet can benefit you. Instead, make it clear what you have to offer them. Don’t be selfish! Perhaps you have contacts that can help the other person grow their business, insights on how they can overcome market challenges, or have an expertise in an area they have targeted for expansion. If you only ask for things, it gives a bad impression. Being helpful will get you remembered – but in a good way.  Always start with how you can help people.  Be a giver.

Tip# 3: Prepare an Icebreaker

Some people are naturally outgoing, while others can be too intimidated to approach prospective clients, partners, and mentors. If you’re in the latter category, prepare a fun and unique icebreaker, which is a way of chatting with someone else without having to think of what to say first. It may not even necessarily be business-related. Once you have a conversation going, you can present your elevator pitch, which is a short explanation of who you are, what you do, and what you would like to achieve by talking to them.

Tip# 4: Bring Business Cards 

Giving someone a business card makes it easier for them to follow up with you, and it looks a lot more professional than scribbling your phone number or email address on a cocktail napkin. Make sure that each card includes your direct contact information instead of a general company email address and phone number.

Tip #5: Follow Up

The day after a successful networking event, send your contacts a quick email reminding them who you are and what you talked about. Thank them again for their time and let them know that you are interested in discussing these topics in further detail when they’re available. Make sure you have (or get) a system to keep track of all your contacts and what each person does. Even better, have a notes section where you can type up some quick information about the person, where you met, etc. This contact list may very well become your most valuable marketing tool, allowing you to start drip campaigns and stay in touch with the people you meet. 

Now Get Your Contracts In Order!

Networking events can result in connections who later become your customers, suppliers, and business partners. There are few things worse than putting all this effort into scoring a lead only to be unprepared when someone is ready to hire you. This is a great way to lose a potential client and disappoint referral sources. To ensure that you are in the best position to take advantage of these opportunities, make sure that all of your business contracts are in order. At Portuondo Law, we assist Florida business owners by drafting contracts that are industry-appropriate, enforceable, and protect you from unnecessary business and financial risks. To schedule a free case evaluation with Attorney Marisa Portuondo, reach out to us today!

Disclaimer: The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters, and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send us any documents to review or confidential information until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

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Marisa Portuondo

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