Top Business Networking Do’s and Dont’s
During the startup stage, one of the important things most entrepreneurs think about is networking. In their desire to tell everyone about their new enterprise, often they forget about proper networking etiquette.
Yes, there are certain things you should and should not do when you are meeting with new people while searching for opportunities for your business. Not observing acceptable networking etiquette can result to missed opportunities and serious damage to your company along with your brand.
Go up to those you want to meet (suppliers, investors, potential business partners, and others) and introduce yourself. Get to know the event organiser, as he most likely knows most of the attendees. Reach out to those who connect with many people but are not a potential business competitor.
To maximize networking opportunities, sit beside those you do not know. Use that chance to bond with new contacts.
Be a friend first. Find something you do or like in common, a sport, food, or movie. Be involved in that common interest together. Remember, a warm sell is always easier than a cold sell.
Ask a lot of questions and listen attentively to answers. The one you are talking to may be completely unconnected to the business you do, but unless you take the time to really find out more about what they do, you will never really know whether or not you have a chance to do business with them.
Make sure you contact the new people you have met, even if you didn’t have proper introduction or recommendation. Follow up is indispensable, but some still fail to do so. What makes networking work is following up later during or after the event. So after the networking event, send an email to those you have met and express your appreciation, or give them a call. Set an appointment with those you think you can have the greatest business opportunity. Invite them for a brunch or to play tennis or golf. It is also a good idea to post a line or two in your social media accounts about the event and those you’ve met.
Do not talk too much about yourself. Otherwise, people will only remember you as the most boring one they’ve talked with. Also, it’s not good to delve into the personal lives of those present in the networking event. Keep in mind that it is not a social gathering however it feels like one, considering the food, entertainment, or even an open bar. But keep in mind that you are there for a specific purpose and that is to meet people from whom you can have business opportunities.
Avoid doing a general circular to everyone as it does you no good. It can in fact imply that you really could not be bothered to take a few minutes to individually address them. On the other hand, avoid spending too much time with any one person, otherwise you will be monopolizing other people’s time and at the same time, you will miss the opportunity to really know other people. The key is to meet a range of individuals.
Also, it’s not advisable that you give your business card to everyone you meet, or worse, to everyone in the event. Not all of them will contact you and most will just throw your business cards away. Hand cards only to those you think you can possibly work together with, and also to those who ask.
Don’t get concerned. If you think the discussion is not working for you, go ahead and excuse yourself and move on. Know that it is expected and it’s not disrespectful.