Have you been reading about effective networking tips?
A business luncheon here, a meetup happy hour there. Networking events are more than free food. They can be a lot of fun and a great opportunity to meet new people. Many people find contacts that will further boost their business, or partners who can offer the best products and services around. Although they can be intimidating, you should always be on your toes at networking events.
If you don’t want to be stuck for what to do after college, here are 5 tips for entrepreneurs to keep in mind when they’re out networking:
Always have plenty of business cards.
Showing up to a networking event without business cards is the equivalent of saying “I’m not serious about my business, and you shouldn’t take me seriously either.” Business cards can often end conversations on a good note. It also gives people your contact information if they have something in mind for you. Be sure to include the important information such as what you do, a number they can reach you, and an e-mail address you check often. There’s nothing worse than trying to get in touch with someone who doesn’t answer their phone and doesn’t check their messages. Don’t be that guy or girl.
Keep a digital portfolio handy.
Even if you just started your online business, in order to be seen as a professional, many people are going to want to see some of your past work. Depending on the type of work you do, you may or may not be able to bring a physical portfolio with you to an event. A great way to keep people engaged is to include a link to a digital portfolio. You can set up a webpage specifically for your past experience, and include this link on your business card. You can get a little more interactive and include the link as a QR code, where the person can see your work right there by scanning the code with their cell phone. Make it easy for them.
Polish your elevator pitch.
When people are asking you what you do or what your business is about, you don’t want to fill your pitch with filler words like “um”, “well”, “sort of”, “like”, etc. Make sure your elevator pitch is polished. You should be able to briefly explain your business in 30 seconds or less and get right to the point. If they want to know more about it, you should also have the expanded version memorized as well. Someone who fumbles through their pitch can be seen as inexperienced. A good pitch answers the important questions: what’s your product/service, who does it service, why is it sustainable/successful, and how does it work.
Follow up with people you connect with.
So you got a handful of business cards and you’re sitting by your phone or e-mail address waiting for them to contact you. Why don’t you contact them? People everywhere are busy doing what they need to do for their business, but you’ll be appreciated for following up with them. A phone call or e-mail would be appropriate, simply saying it was great to meet them at the networking event, and that you hope to be able to connect with them again in the future.
Promote them like you want them to promote you.
Networking can’t be a one sided deal where you’re just looking for exposure for your brand. When you meet people, they’re there for the exact same reason. Keep them in mind as you’re further networking with others. If someone is looking for a person who is in a certain field, and you happened to have met that person at a previous event, offer to connect the two. They’ll both appreciate your effort, and you’ll be remembered for similar situations. Many entrepreneurs experience similar difficulties, and try to stick together and help each other as much as possible.
Whether you’re amongst your peers or outnumbered by more experienced and higher ranking people in your field, the crowd is all the same and the tips remain relevant despite the crowd. Stay confident, and don’t make it all about you. We hope that these networking tips and tricks will help you out greatly. If you’re paying off credit card debt still, you don’t have to worry about spending money. Keep it simple!
This was a guest post from Briana.