“Good networking skills will lead you to great success and friendships,” Susan Bierly, President of IMC Water Coolers and owner of The Core Networking, LLC. Susan joined the Grow My Business class to help the entrepreneurs get out of their comfort zones and start meeting people! Networking is hard work. It takes courage and skill but with practice comes confidence.
For any entrepreneur who is nervous about networking, here are 4 tips to help you get started:
1) Know why you are at a networking event! Although this seems like an obvious statement, most people do not assess the reasons for going to an event and what they hope to gain out of it. Do not be the first one to sit down and start eating, stick to the people you came with, or talk to the same people you have met at other events. Networking events are meant for meeting new people and creating new relationships, so be adventurous and strategize with the people you have come with.
2) Never be on time! If you are on time, you are late. Always be a few minutes early to any networking event. This gives you the opportunity to scope out the room and place yourself in the most opportune spot. For example, stand next to the sign in sheet or near the food table. You can easily introduce yourself to new people this way. Susan also said if you are at a loss for words, an easy way to engage in conversation with someone new is to say “I don’t believe we have met yet.” It is also nice to approach the facilitator of the event if you are one of the first people to arrive and ask to help. You can build a new relationship with the host of the event and they will take you under their wing, introduce you to people, and make sure that you are a little more successful during the event.
3) Have tangible goals in writing before you walk into a networking event. This can be the number of people you want to meet, to find a potential partner, or to find a networking partner. Networking partners can be a great way to cover more ground. Once you get to know someone, exchange the type of partners you both are looking for. They can introduce you to someone who meets your criteria and vice versa. It also cuts any awkwardness or uncomfort out when someone else introduces you as a friend.
4) Always, always, always follow up. Many people lose their value during the follow up process. It is important to separate yourself from the crowd by following up immediately with a thank you email, letter or phone call.
This GMB class was equal parts informative and entertaining. Thank you so much, Susan, for being such a great guest speaker! It was a pleasure to welcome you to the EWI family. If you are interested in hearing Susan’s lectures on networking and getting more in-depth advice, join one of her seminars at http://www.thecorenetworking.com/.
Written by Program Associate Sarah Mustafa