In today’s world of business, it’s is all about building your network. Whether you are looking for new employment or the best resources for starting a new venture, networking with friends and colleagues would be the ideal space to be in. For introverts like myself, this task can be dreadful to say the least. But…at some point you have to push yourself to do things you don’t wanna do. You know how entrepreneurs are always talking about stretching beyond the comfort zone? It really isn’t a bunch of mumbo jumbo, it’s the truth.
The last couple of events that I went to were wayyy out of my comfort zone. Since I don’t attend offline events very often, I was unprepared (no business cards or any of the stuff I mention below) so they were both teachable moments for me.
Everything is about perspective…
There’s no need to be hard on yourself for the things you don’t know. You take the lessons and apply them down the road.
I gathered up with some helpful tips for building your network so you don’t have to go through what I’ve experienced but most importantly, so that you are prepared.
1) Reach out to your warm market. Everybody knows somebody. So what you wanna do is create a targeted list of people to contact and set your contact goals. It can be a list of family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, professors, alumni from schools you’ve attended, vendors you’ve had contact with before, salespeople, members of organizations you belong to or volunteer with; other professionals (e.g., accountants, doctors, real estate agents, hair stylists); bloggers and members of online groups and communities.
Once you’ve made your list, set goals for contacting these people. You might want to email ten people a week or meet face to face with two people a week. When I set up my goal for this, it was a massive ten emails sent out per day until I exhausted my list. You’d be surprised at how much help you can get from the people you already know.
2) A 30-second “elevator pitch” isn’t a bad idea. What is this? It’s a concise statement about who you are, what you are looking for, and what makes you unique. Let’s say someone asks you about what you do.
You could say something like: John, what I’ve noticed is that a lot of women entrepreneurs are lacking confidence and enabling fear to paralyze their voice from being heard. I’m Jane Love and I help women entrepreneurs get connected and gain the confidence to step into their power with effective market domination techniques so they can….. yada yada 🙂 Work on it and have it ready to go for every opportunity.
Your perfect elevator pitch should answer the following questions:
1. What is the name of your company and/or product?
2. What does your company and/or product do?
3. What problem does your company and/or product solve?
4. What is the major benefit that your customers will experience from using your product and/or service?
3) Get your business cards made and carry them with you at all times. You can choose from companies like Vista Print, U Printing, Moo Business Cards, provide professional business cards for decent prices so check them out. Include all of your contact info, title, tagline (if you have one), and perhaps a free offer that gets them into your email database.
4) Attend networking events more often. It can be simple events like meetups, meetings held by professional associations, alumni groups, user groups, civic organizations, or social groups. As moms, we do what we can, when we can. If you can only attend two or three events a year, it’s better than nothing. Don’t feel like you have to break your neck to get to
networking events because you don’t. There are plenty of ways that you can network online.
- Decide on who you want to meet before you get there; a reasonable goal might be five or six people
- Dress appropriately (usually business casual) and arrive a little early. Have business cards ready
- Ask others for their cards and be sure to follow up
If you come up with questions to ask in advance and you practice them, I can almost guarantee that you won’t ask them the same way when you actually talk to people. I don’t know why that happens but it does. The good thing is that you will be more relaxed because you already practiced.
5) Networking is definitely a two-way street. Always, always, always, maintain a mindset of being a resource to others, and help people whenever you can. This will do wonders to build your network and amplify your confidence.
6) Keep networking in the front of your mind. Everywhere you go, everyone you meet could present a networking opportunity. Always have your card and your elevator pitch ready, and take every chance you get to let people know who you are and what you do. Meeting new people and continuously expanding your contact base has the potential to change the course of your business.