Networking is one of the most powerful tools you have in building your business. Meeting and talking to the right people - potential clients, colleagues, friends, and more - earns you benefits like free advice, inspiration for your own business decisions, and referrals. When done correctly, it can also add to your credibility and expertise. Avoid simple networking mistakes below, and you're well on your way to business growth.
Don't Be Shy
There's a temptation to stick with people you already know, especially for more introverted professionals. Speaking to friends and colleagues you're familiar with won't grow your network or help your business.
If you're timid about meeting new people, introduce two of your connections to each other. You'll be building value in their minds and chances are your introduction will encourage them to do the same. You can also look around for someone who may be feeling as intimidated as you are - they'll be happy to have company and conversation and a new connection.
Don't Speak To Only One Person
By limiting your interaction to just one person, you're limited the experience for both
of you. Keep conversations under 10 minutes before politely bowing out with something like, "I know there are other people here who would love to talk to you, but let's reconnect later."
Don't Be Afraid To Ask Questions
No one wants to appear ignorant, but it's scientifically proven that people who ask questions look more intelligent to their peers.
By asking questions, you look like you are gathering information and growing your own expertise. You'll also flatter the person on the answering end of your question.
Don't Self-Promote Too Much
People are more likely to do business with friends and people they like. Blatant self-promotion is annoying to your colleagues. Use the opportunity to focus on creating social connections that can grow into a business benefit later. Even better, connect with people you may be able to hire as a vendor or refer to someone. You'll be guaranteed a follow up with little work on your own.
Don't Forget To Follow Up
Few of us have extra time on our hands. When work is busy, following up with someone you met at last week's luncheon becomes a low priority. Take responsibility and do the following up on your own or it may never happen.