8 Ways to Get Better at Networking

Making valuable connections is a skill every business owner should attempt to master
8 Ways to Get Better at Networking
Attendees at the Water & Wastewater Equipment, Treatment & Transport Show in 2015 gather. Trade shows are one opportunity for people to network at.

There’s an old saying: It’s not what you know that matters; it’s who you know. That’s largely true when you’re looking for new employment, but it’s also true if you’re a small-business owner. If you want to get things done, it pays to be connected. And the only way to get connected is to be intentional about networking.

A lot of small-business owners aren't naturally adept at networking — nor is it a skill that anyone can master without some real effort. With that said, there are certainly some steps you can take to make yourself a more all-around effective networker.

Always be networking. Intentionality is one of the most important aspects of networking. Simply being willing to put in the work can go a long way. So try to keep yourself in a networking frame of mind all the time; any time you meet someone new, view it as a potential opportunity. Have business cards and a personal “elevator pitch” ready. You never know when you might meet a significant new connection!

Look beyond social media. There’s nothing wrong with using LinkedIn, Twitter and other virtual tools to build connections. But remember that a lot of the best connections you’ll make happen face to face. Don’t allow social media to distract you from real-world relationship building.

Be ready to market yourself. Again, have an elevator pitch ready, for yourself and for your business. Know your value proposition. Be prepared to articulate the things that make you distinct. It’s worth your time to actually rehearse your pitch so that you can deliver it without fumbling.

Show up early to meetings. Forget about being fashionably late. Next time you go to a conference, seminar or meeting, try to get there a few minutes early. That’s an excellent time to meet some people, shake some hands and maybe even get some names.

Ask easy questions. Have some simple questions ready that you can use to draw people into a conversation. Something as simple as, “So, what brings you to this event?” can go a long way toward breaking the ice and getting you off the sidelines.

Share the things you’re passionate about. You know what interests you and turns your energy levels up. When in doubt, segue the conversation into the things you care most about — being sure you’re not steamrolling the other person or monopolizing the dialogue.

Follow through. Following up on the contacts you make, via email or LinkedIn message, is the most critical part of the networking process. Never promise to connect with someone online and then fail to do so!

Be pleasant. Finally … don’t forget to smile. Likability usually wins the day when all else fails. If people like you, they’ll want to connect with you.

Networking may not come easily to you, and that’s okay. But it’s something you can and should get better at. It’s worth the effort to become better connected.

About the Author

Amanda E. Clark is the president and editor-in-chief of Grammar Chic Inc., a full-service professional writing company. She is a published ghostwriter and editor, and currently under contract with literary agencies in Malibu, California, and Dublin, Ireland. Since founding Grammar Chic in 2008, Clark, along with her team of skilled professional writers, has offered expertise to clients in the creative, business andacademic fields. The company accepts a wide range of projects and often engages in content and social media marketing, drafts resumes, press releases, Web content, marketing materials and ghostwr​itten creative pieces. Contact Clark at www.grammarchic.net.



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