Ready to grow your business? Reach out to new clients and investors? Or just want to spread the word about how amazing your startup is? (Of course you do!) Then you need to get yourself networking. Scratch out any old clichéd myths you have in your head about business schmooze-fests though. It’s not about whizzing around a room and getting your card in as many hands as possible. And you don’t want to limit all your effort on only the people you think are going to be helpful – while dismissing the rest.
So how do you network like a pro? Read on!
Do your research
Not all networking events are going to be useful – or interesting to you. If you’re a tech startup, it kinda makes sense to go to events geared up towards technology, right? And there are some amazing tech events taking place, all time time. So do your homework before you go. Check out who’s organised it, and what’s going to go on. And spread the word about the fact that you’re going. Find out who else is going to be there – is there anyone you’ve been dying to have a chat with? Perfect opportunity!
Turn up on time
There’s a time and a place for being fashionably late – a professional networking event isn’t it. It’s not just about being polite – arriving early has a whole load of perks. You get to scout the venue, and the new arrivals as they drift in, and it’s also much easier to jump into a conversation when it’s not super busy yet.
Dump the sales pitch
You really, really want to get interest in your startup – but that doesn’t mean you broadcast your sales pitch to everyone you come across. Doing the hard sell to everyone you meet is going to come across as painfully inauthentic. Instead, focus on getting the conversation started and having a great exchange with people. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t talk about your product or service – keep a list of awesome facts about your startup in mind, so that you can fit them into a conversation naturally.
Don’t be an attention hog
Love the sound of your own voice? You’re going to have to learn to tone down the dial a bit. While you want to get people’s attention, trying to get the spotlight on you at Every. Single. Moment is going to get a little tiresome for everyone else around you. Learn to listen to others instead. Show interest in what they’re doing – ask insightful questions and make them feel valuable. That’s what will make you memorable after the event – not the conversation hijacker.
So you’ve been there and done it, and have a load of new LinkedIn invites and old school business cards to show for it. What next? Time to follow up! You’ll want to strike while the proverbial iron is still smokin’ – ie. While you’re still fresh in people’s memory (and they’re fresh in yours.). Take the follow up as an opportunity to continue and deepen the conversation – don’t switch straight up into sales mode just yet!
How about you – do you love or hate networking? What’s the best event you’ve ever been to and why?