Networking is essential, regardless of the type of business you operate. It provides an opportunity to learn from your peers and meet others at various stages along the same path. While you may understand the importance of networking, you may not know where to begin. As with any task, the best way to get started is to develop a step-by-step strategy.
Establish Networking Goals
The first step is to determine what you want to accomplish through your networking efforts. Are you hoping to meet new customers, potential investors, or new colleagues? Your goals will help you determine how to proceed.
Create an Introduction
You should have a standard greeting that you use to introduce yourself to everyone, especially if you’re more of an introvert. Your greeting should state your name and what you do for a living. The final part of your greeting should be customizable because you want it to reveal what you can do for the person you’re meeting.
Social Media Offers Great Opportunities
When you’re ready to begin networking as an entrepreneur, you can begin by reaching out on various social media sites. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are all great ways to connect with others who share an interest in your industry.
Get Out of the Office
While you can network more conveniently online, this should be merely a stepping stone. Your ultimate goal is to have face to face meetings, attend conferences, and help organize conventions. This will help you build relationships with your peers, vendors, investors, and potential customers.
Use Your Existing Contacts
You already have a small network of associates, and they can be valuable resources in your efforts to expand your reach. As you develop your relationships with them, take advantage of opportunities to meet the professionals they know. You never know who you might meet through a friend of a friend.
Give a Little to Get a Little
If you come across as a shameless self-promoter, you might find that your networking efforts aren’t bearing fruit. Try altering your approach. A more generous attitude, where you offer something of value to those you meet, can get you much farther and will help to open more doors for you.
Networking is never easy, but it’s not impossible, either. By putting in a little effort and making yourself more visible, you may find that people are eager to connect with you. As you begin to forge new relationships, those acquaintances will provide more opportunities for networking. It won’t be long before you’re the envy of other new entrepreneurs.