Without the right tools and skills, attending a business networking event can turn into a nightmare for any business owner. That’s why many people try to avoid these events. They think having a strong presence on social media platforms can be enough; however, that’s not the case at all. All of the online platforms combined can’t substitute for what networking brings to the table. According to a study published by Forbes: “Networking is vital to entrepreneurial success for 78% of startups!” Networking helps you generate new leads, gain a deeper knowledge of your industry, and open more opportunities for your business – whether it’s in Orange County or elsewhere. That’s why we created a list of 5 networking tips for business owners. So read on for some great networking tips!
Networking Tip 1: Set a Goal
You can easily feel lost and overwhelmed in networking events, not knowing where to start. That is why you need to determine your goals, before attending the event. Are you going there to establish new connections? Do you want to learn more about the industry from other business owners? Are you looking for referrals to help your business grow in Irvine or somewhere else in Orange County?
The goals you set will help you navigate the networking event. You can also determine who you want to talk to first or spend more time with. But, how do you know who is going to attend the event?
Networking Tip 2: Research Other Attendees
Showing up prepared will save you a lot of time during the event. It will help you strike up meaningful conversations with the right people. Some networking events mention the list of attendees in their description. If the event is on Facebook, you can check the list of people “interested” or “going” to the event.
Once you’ve found a list of attendees, do a little research. You can try to Google the names, check their business websites, or search for them on LinkedIn. This will help you create a shortlist of the people you want to speak to. Don’t make the list too long. After all, you want to establish a real connection with each of them.
Networking Tip 3: Prepare an Elevator Pitch
In a networking event, you want to make the conversation long enough to generate a lead. However, it should not be too long. You want to have time to talk to other attendees as well. The term “elevator pitch” is familiar to anyone who has worked in sales or marketing. It consists of short and to-the-point sentences that best describe your California business and what you do. Try to focus on the core problem your business solves. This will raise people’s interest in what you do. Using the elevator pitch strategy will help you introduce your business to others in networking events. By keeping it short, you won’t lose their interest or attention. This will also give you time to ask them questions or answer theirs.
Networking Tip 4: Listen
Yes, you should promote your OC business at a networking event. However, the conversation should not be all about you. To truly connect with people, you should listen to them. This is not just about hearing them or giving them a chance to speak. Being an active listener can help you create a strong relationship with other attendees.
To show people you are truly listening to them, pay attention and try to ask questions. Do not just wait for them to pause so you can ask the next question on your list. This is not an interview. Instead, try to dig deeper into what they are saying. This will not just show your interest in their business, it will also give you the chance to learn something new from them.
Networking Tip 5: Follow Up
Establishing a strong connection at a networking event is only half the battle. Keeping the relationships going afterward is the other half. You don’t want the conversations to end at the event. If you do, you’ll leave the event with a bunch of business cards that will just gather dust on your desk, which won’t help your business. ALWAYS follow up after the event.
Wait a couple of days, after the networking event, then reach out to the people you met there. You can either write them an e-mail or send them a text thanking them for their time. Try to summarize what you have talked about and remind them of who you are. This will give you another opportunity to keep the conversation going and grow your business network.
Bonus: Networking Faux Pas
Networking tips are not all about what to do. There are a couple of things you need to avoid as well. Try to keep the conversation positive. If you start talking negatively about former employees or coworkers, you might scare people off. They would think you might talk badly about them as well.
When it comes to networking connections, remember it is all about give and take. So, do not be selfish. Try to offer people something as well. You can give them some business advice or share your knowledge with them. This will encourage people in your network to help you or offer something in return.
Thriving at networking events isn’t an easy task – that’s why we put together our list of 5 networking tips for business owners. Who are we? We are My OC Bookkeeper. We understand the challenges that business owners have to face every day and are ready and waiting to help. Unlike most bookkeepers, we don’t see ourselves as outside service providers, we consider our clients partners in making the Orange County business community thrive. Our bookkeeping, accounting, and business advisory services will help take your business to the next level. Get in touch with us now and let’s do great things together! Watch the video to learn more.
Want to learn a bit about more about who you might meet at a networking event in SoCal? Check out this post on the 5 biggest employers in the OC.