Networking is key for your business to grow through relationships and contacts! Networking groups can consist of a formal group or a group of colleagues; the main factor to a successful networking group is communication, education, support and referrals. Entrepreneurs need to network! Knowing what to do and what not to do will differentiate between if networking will make or break you.
To Do Tips:
1. Talk to friends, family, and colleagues for recommendations.
2. Research networking groups online.
3. Try out one or two groups for a few months in a row to get a "good" feel for the group.
4. Carry your professional printed business card to hand out if asked.
5. Have marketing materials or your products along in your car; you can get them upon request.
6. Be sociable and outgoing. If you are new to the group, introduce yourself and ask questions about the group.
7. Listen attentively, repeat their name or ask again politely if you forget.
8. Ask group members about their business and how you can contribute.
Do Not Tips:
1. Do not join a group and pay a yearly fee because someone tells you to, check out a few meetings and see if the group is a "fit" for you.
2. Do not hand out business cards you have printed yourself.
3. Do not give out your business card if the person hasn't asked for one.
4. Do not flit from group to group. Find one or two you like and become a regular. Just like advertising, it is repetition and building relationships with others in the group that will help you grow your business professionally.
5. Do not talk longer than you are given. Most groups have a time limit - stick to it. If people want to know more about you or your business, they will ask you.
6. Get over your shyness or insecurities! This is not the time to sit over in the corner and hope others approach you.
7. Never try to guess someone's name -ask him or her for his or her business card.
8. Do not try to sell someone anything unless the person has asked to buy your product/service.
Networking groups are about establishing relationships, education, support and referrals, not "fast sales". Engage yourself in group discussions and speak with members about how you can assist them. By building strong and trusting relationships you will gain important and useful contacts. This will help your business grow and gain more clientele.