5 Ways Small Business Owners Can Ace their Next Networking Event

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In the business world, who you know can make a huge amount of difference, and exposing yourself and your brand to the right opportunities can often create opportunities that you may have never expected. In many ways, every action that small business owners take loans them a new chance to create their own lucky breaks through being positive and keeping an eye open for new opportunities. One of the best ways that small business owners can make new connections is through attending industry events, trade shows, and networking meetups. You don’t have to be a social butterfly in order to make the best of these chances to meet connections, all you have to do is go prepared and with an open mind to what you might discover. Here’s how small business owners can get ready to go to a networking opportunity and then make a great impression once there.

Define what kind of connections you are trying to make. While keeping an open mind to meeting people, it can help if small business owners define an idea of what they are looking for from their networking event. Perhaps you are looking to forge some referral partnerships, with other business owners, or it could be the case that you are looking for management talent with experience in your industry. No matter what you are looking for, if you already have defined an idea, you can politely inquire after what it is that you are looking for with the people who you will meet.

Bring business cards, and ask for them from others. At an event, you are going to be meeting a lot of people who you are going to want to follow up with later. Whether you are simply going to connect on LinkedIn or schedule a meeting to talk about business plans, loan your memory a break and take a card with their information. Conversely, if you don’t take an ample stock of your own business cards with you, you risk running out. The more you pass around, the better. There is no reason to be shy when it comes to making potentially useful connections.

Stay focused on your goals. At some events, there is potential to become distracted by entertainment or refreshments which may include alcoholic beverages. There’s no reason to deprive yourself, but at a networking event maintaining composure and the ability to communicate with clear focus is essential. If you are planning on drinking alcohol, know thyself. Similarly, don’t wander off looking at the sights around you when there are connections to be made.

Connect with event organizers. It’s always a good idea to take some time to connect with the organizers of networking events. For one thing, they are usually very well connected people themselves and therefore may be able to put you in touch with people at the event you might otherwise have missed. Another great reason to connect with these people is because by doing so you may be able to promote your business more prominently at their next event, serving as a guest speaker or presenter of your brand. The more channels for building exposure that you are able to create, the more robust options you will create for promoting your business.

Blog about the event. After the networking event, it can be a good follow up to post about your business’s involvement, perhaps sharing links to some of the companies you connected with. Not only does this demonstrate to digital visitors that your business is active in the industry and making positive connections, it also shows those who you connected with while there that you are serious about following up relationships you’ve created.

Photo Credit to Dell Inc. on Flickr

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