Any business can become overwhelmed with the day-to-day list of things to do. This is magnified if you’re a sole trader.

As you are consumed with the daily running of your business, it is easy to forget one important area – networking.  I can hear you already, “I don’t have time to go out and meet people!”.  I’ve met many small business owners who feel like they just don’t have the time to do this, often followed with “I’ve got more important things to do”.

You are your business.  Even though advertising gets you exposure, it doesn’t always give the personal touch.  Advertising creates brand awareness and sells a service or product.  Networking builds relationships that can last for years to come and open doors to a wide group of potential customers you may otherwise not have reached.

So this brings me to my point of how important networking really is for any business. So I want to share with you some tips on how to get the most out of any networking you do.

Firstly, I would like to point out you may like to do a little research on the networking event you are going to attend.  Some are rather open to a range of business types while others can be specific. Nonetheless here are 5 things to consider when networking.

  1. Dress – this might seem obvious to some but the way you present yourself will have an impact on the impression you leave.  Remember you are your business so if you want to be taken seriously and be seen as an expert in your field then dress accordingly as it does speak volumes.
  2. Elevator Speech – Most networking events allow you the opportunity to introduce yourself and talk a little about the business.  Usually you get 30 seconds to one minute.  So you really need to make it concise and rather punchy.  Keep it relevant to who you wish to target (what type of client you would like), this tells those in the room how they can help you out.
  3. Have a Mission – Go into your networking event with a clear vision of what you want to get out of this experience.  For example you may wish to meet at least 5 new people and organize a follow-up one-on-one meeting.  By doing this you will have a sense of achievement when you leave.  If you don’t, it could leave you feeling like you just wasted your time.
  4. Relationship Building – Networking is not just about going in looking at what you can get out of it, it’s also a good place to give back.  Be sure to offer advice, give referrals and connect with others around you.  Never dismiss anyone as irrelevant either!
  5. Follow-up – So you just finished networking and have a hand full of cards of some great people you just met.  What do you do?  Some you may have already organised to get together again outside over the next week.  As for the others, I always send a quick follow –up email/phone call and connect with them through various social media platforms.  Make sure you nurture your new relationships, you just never know where it will end up!

About the Author

Melita Valcich is the founder of Envious Solutions a place where we make your competitors green with envy.  Envious Solutions is a marketing company providing marketing solutions and strategies to small and medium sized businesses.  Envious Solutions strategies help businesses increase their customer awareness and sales.