We know why it is so important to have a community and network (see here), and there are quite a few networking and entrepreneurial groups for women, and moms here in the capital city (see here). But when you get there, what should you do? Here are a few top tips for networking:
– Bring Business Cards. If you want to connect with people, they need a way to remember you and contact you. Business cards are an inexpensive way to have your business name, brand, contact info, website for people to refer to at a later date. They’re old fashioned, but essential
– Relax. Sometimes going to a place alone is the best way to get out there and force yourself to talk to new people. If you bring some one along, they will be your crutch to not talk to people. If you’re not comfortable going it alone, bring a fellow entrepreneur, but remember, you’re there to meet other people. Don’t rely on your date to keep you company.
– If you’re shy, start with a small networking event, rather than throwing yourself in an event with 300 people which could be intimidating. Find a small local group of entrepreneurs and start there. You’ll find it easier to talk to people one on one, and will gain confidence to go again.
– Smile. You will be more approachable, plus you’ll feel better.
– Ask questions and listen to the answer: Ask about their business and what they do, how long they’ve been in business. They in turn will ask you what your business is. The goal of networking is to find out how you can help other people. Listen to how you can help them, and offer your “needs” after you’ve established a rapore.
– Be yourself. Always.
– Follow up. If you’ve connected with someone, follow up with them over a quick email or tweet! Don’t call them or email them every 5 minutes. Remember, they’re probably just as busy as you. They’ll get back to you if they need your help, or if they are able to help you. If they don’t respond, don’t take this personally, this is business.