As a small business owner, you know networking is the key to expansion. Rubbing shoulders with other industry professionals will result in connections that can grow your knowledge base and lead to new business opportunities. However, as important a skill as it may be, not everyone knows how to network effectively.
Luckily, it’s not a hard technique to master. With these 4 steps, you’ll learn how to network effectively and land new contacts every time.
1. Nail your elevator pitch.
Everyone knows they need an elevator pitch, but here’s something people don’t always think about: Is your pitch engaging enough to catch the interest of a total stranger? It’s not enough to tell people what you do—you have to keep them intrigued.
Forbes suggests leading with a question in order to gauge the other person’s interest in what you have to say. If they seem bored, you might need to reevaluate your pitch.
2. Make it personal.
No one likes to feel like they’re being used for their connections. When networking, be sure you focus on the actual person you’re talking to—not just what they can do for your business.
If you’re having a hard time coming up with conversation starters that don’t just revolve around swapping elevator pitches, check out this article about ways to initiate a conversation. Simple greetings, compliments, and humor are all home runs you can use to begin a friendly chat without things feeling awkward.
3. Use social media strategically.
When you think about how to network effectively, your first thought might be events or conferences in your industry. However, social media is an equally effective place for networking for small business owners as long as you’re strategic about how you use it.
Find out where the experts in your industry are spending time online and follow them. Share their content when it’s relevant and be sure to tag them when you do—that’s how they’ll notice you.
Likewise, you can establish yourself as an expert on social media by actively participating in industry discussions. Take part in Twitter chats or join Facebook groups that are related to your business. In time, people will recognize your name and associate you with those topics.
4. Follow up.
Once you’ve made a new contact, you should follow up quickly to start building a relationship while you’re still fresh in their mind. Send them an email or connect on social media and simply let them know you’re interested in continuing the conversation. If you can arrange a second meet-up, even better.
Learning how to network effectively is crucial for keeping your company afloat. Whether you connect in-person or online, having the chance to talk with other leaders in your industry will give you a new perspective on your own business and open the door to new opportunities down the line.
If you want to learn more about the responsibilities of owning a business, check out my free eBook, 10 Critical Responsibilities of a Business Owner. From developing a business plan to marketing your goods and services, this short eBook will help you transform your business and reach your goals.