Knowing how to work the room (or the bar) is one of the most underrated skills an entrepreneur can possess. You know that networking is everything, from gaining job opportunities to ringing up sales for your company, but maybe you’ve never thought of it as a skill you can learn. Here’s five simple ways to network – based on my own experiences – to get you started.
Just Be You
I’ve had the good fortune of meeting so many interesting people over the last couple of years, from local community leaders to local business owners. I enjoy meeting people. When I show up to present myself to clients (and remember this: everyone is a potential client), I rarely have a sense of nervousness. Why? I show up as myself! I may not have all the answers to solve a particular challenge and I know that going into the meeting. The most important thing is to be able to listen, offer suggestions and walk away with a better understanding of what makes that person tick.
Building business is building relationships. The two are one in the same. We often conduct business with a “what’s in it for me?” attitude. This is exactly how to fail at business. Instead approach each situation with an attitude of generosity. Most business deals are not made in the first couple of meetings. It’s the long-term relationship we are after. Don’t hold back with what you can do or how you can help.
Put Puzzle Pieces Together
Life is not a linear experience. It is a complex web of interconnected relationships and situations, each coming together at the perfect time to help us find solutions. When I meet or reconnect with someone who presents a need (it may be a sales lead, a job opening, a social media connection or a recommendation), my mind immediately goes into high gear until I come up with a solution or a connection for that person. From there, the pieces of the puzzle start falling into place.
Build an Online Presence (Blog, Website)
Today, networking often takes place virtually. Crunched for time and can’t make it to the coffee shop to meet that prospect or client? No problem! Put your best foot forward and reach out with a platform that showcases who you are and how you can serve. Your website, blog and social media accounts can anchor your business with personality and thought leadership. It’s the most effective way to interact with people in your network.
Take Advantage of Social Media
Building a strong social network is no walk through the park. It’s more like an uphill climb. But fear not! In my next post, I will discuss the best ways to navigate the terrain. When time is of the essence, I can help you create lasting relationships through social media.