Here at the Chamber, we always talk about the power of relationships. Our team works hard to bring our membership events that create an ideal setting in which to make these connections. But in the end, it all comes down to one thing: your ability to network.
Networking is imperative to growing a business, yet it’s a daunting task for many. Some thrive within a crowded room… others shrink at the thought of facing so many strangers in one place. Successful networking doesn’t require a certain personality, but it does take a few key skills. Here are a few tips to help maximize your time at next Chamber event, or any networking function:
Genuinely get to know the person: Have you ever returned from an event with a pile of business cards, but no real idea of any of the people behind them? The “speed dating” approach certainly gets you in front of a lot of people, but rarely results in qualified leads. Spend a little extra time with each person you meet. Talk to them about their aspirations for their business first and offer your assistance in meeting those goals. Once at ease, they’ll be more apt to want to hear about you. Then its your turn to shine and state your needs.
- Search for commonality: Wallflowers can’t expect the introductions to magically happen. Sure, it can be intimidating going up to someone you don’t know, so search for people you’re likely to have something share something with. It could be a conversation about tennis you just overhead or a article of clothing you admire. It gives you a good jumping point to spark the conversation, but also establishes commonality. People like and want to do business with others whom they relate to.
- Get comfortable: Yes, sometimes we have to step outside our comfort zone to make things happen, but you don’t want to be a complete outsider either. When RSVPing to networking events, think about the type of people and places you want to be around. After all, it is these contacts with whom we will hopefully be working with long-term. Sustainable relationships can’t be forced…If you can’t relate to the overall vibe of a networking event, chances are, you won’t feel comfortable with doing business with the people found there.
Networking is like a boomerang, help others and they’re more apt to help you. Perhaps you won’t meet as many people in a night (luckily, we have plenty of activities planned for you to capture time with hopefully all our members), but I assure you that these approaches will open avenues that are more effective and meaningful for your business.
At your service,