Although being able to market your business online is convenient, attending in-person networking events is still incredibly valuable and even critical for being able to grow your business. You may feel as though you can build more connections virtually, there’s a lot of value that comes from meeting someone face-to-face and getting to know one another on a more personal level.
Whether you attend a formal networking event, workshops or conferences, or volunteer events, there are several opportunities available to you for building strategic business connections. Check out these top tips for networking the right way.
Attending networking events is an investment of both time and money, which means it’s important to be intentional about the events that you attend. In this case, less is always more, and the quality of the events you go to weighs more than the quantity of the events you go to. If you attend only two networking events that had 50 guests each, that may be better than attending five networking events that had only 10 guests each.
However, that might not always be the case — if you find a niche networking event that’s a perfect fit for your career or industry, those smaller events could bring great leads and connections your way. This shows that it’s important to do your research on the events beforehand.
Additionally, take the location into consideration and be sure it will be worth the drive for you if it’s a little bit farther away. If you’re open to traveling a little bit of distance, that’s great. On the other hand, if you prefer to stick to locations that are only around 30 minutes away, that’s okay, too. Don’t be afraid to say no to events that don’t work for you or your schedule.
Lastly, see if you’re able to get your hands on a guest list for the event. If you’re able to find out who’s attending and see what their profession is, that will help you to decide whether or not you’ll be able to make some valuable connections.
Although it may be tempting to make your way around the entire room and meet every attendee, it’s not always practical or possible. If the event only lasts two hours and there are 75 attendees, that doesn’t necessarily give you enough time to meet with everyone and have a solid conversation.
That’s why aiming to meet only a handful of people is much more attainable. You can do that by:
It’s much easier to nurture and maintain your network when it’s at a manageable size. If you keep your circle “small,” you’ll have much more success with keeping track of everyone.
Yes, business cards still work! Bring a handful with you, and keep a backup in your car just in case you need more. If you have other promotional materials, bring those as well. They could be:
And more. Hand out these materials to every person you meet so they have your contact information and will be more apt to remember you.
The networking doesn’t end when the event ends! Always follow up and stay in touch with the people you meet. This may include:
The touch points should continue even after this first outreach, too. Make it a habit to consistently engage with their social media posts and send them a referral or connection as you’re able to. The more you support them, the more they’ll support you!
Networking shouldn’t be something you do every once in a while — it should be something that you do on a consistent basis. If you’re just starting to dip your toes into networking, make it a goal to attend at least one event per month. This will help you to feel comfortable with meeting others and find a process that works best for you. As time allows and as your eagerness to network grows, then you can start to fill your calendar with events.
A pro tip would be to join organizations that frequently host events, like Chambers of Commerce, and attend as many events by those organizations as you can rather than going to random events here and there. You’re likely to see a handful of the same people as you attend those events, which means you’ll stay top of mind for them when they’re looking to hire someone like you or know someone who is.
By following this process and making it a habit to value in-person connections, you’ll find your business growing from these referrals in no time!
At Massachusetts Business Network, we make it easy for you to connect with other business owners and learn about new topics in the process! Check out our list of upcoming events.