Chances are that when you decided to run your own business, it wasn’t because you loved hanging around a hotel conference room holding a glass of warm Chardonnay and trying to keep a HELLO MY NAME IS sticker from falling off your shirt. But networking plays a crucial role in building your business and defining your position in the community. So how can you make the most of your networking time and come across well to your peers?
Remember that it isn’t about you. People love to talk about themselves – so let them. Think of networking events not as a scary once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to promote yourself but as an occasional chance to hear what other local business owners like and dislike and worry about. It takes the pressure off you and makes networking into a discussion rather than a performance.
- Don’t ask “So what do you do?” It’s an obvious question, and one that people are prepared to answer at networking events – but it really only provides a gateway to people talking about their job roles. “Tell me about [Company XYZ]” is more open-ended and encourages people to talk about what’s really important to them.
- When you’re asked about your own business, make sure you cover three points: what you do, what you love about it, and what impact it has on others. If you focus on the positive consequences of work you enjoy instead of the technical details around your job role, your enthusiasm will naturally come across and be more compelling than a canned elevator speech.
CMIT recently held a free webinar with business columnist and inspirational speaker Lisa Earle McLeod where she provided numerous other practical tips for getting more out of networking events. Access the recorded webinar here.