Networking is essential] when you run your own business. Being active online is great, but you need to go out there and meet people face to face. It can be daunting] though – I know this well as networking certainly isn’t my favourite thing.
Where do you find events? How do you know you should attend?
Most events you will find on Twitter, Meetup and Eventbrite. These are the 3 platforms we use most to keep up-to-date with the various meet-ups, workshops and conferences taking place near us. You can search by location or topic and should be able to find a few events that interest you in no time.
These are the events either Nic or I attend on a regular basis:
They are all different and attract different people. And that’s the point of networking. Let’s have a look at who attends the events we go to:
South-West Founders – tech entrepreneurs, startup founders, investors
Marketing Network – marketers
Bristol Ruby Group (BRUG) – web developers
Freelance Breakfast – freelancers
Bristol Business Mums – mumpreneurs
You should aim at meeting people who are in the same industry, people who could be your clients, and people, who, generally, could have something interesting to say to you. Various events will bring you different contacts, so don’t confine yourself to just one.
“I don’t have the time”
You run a business, you have a family, sometimes you even have hobbies. Where do you find the time to do go networking?
Well, the time has to be taken as a work task, simply because it is an essential part of your business.
It doesn’t mean that you need to be out 4 nights a week. With Nic we restrict it to 1 night a week, and if there are several events in the same week, then we choose the most important or interesting one.
You could also look at workshops and conferences which take place during the day. They are good places to expand your network as well and won’t have such an impact on your family life.
Before, during and after
Before you go, take some time to prepare your introduction and elevator pitch. You are going to introduce yourself and your business more than once and you need to be ready for it. In a few sentences, you need to 1/ catch the attention of the people you’re talking to, 2/ explain what you do and 3/ make sure they will remember you. Not easy but the more you practice it, the better you’ll get.
During the event, you need to be proactive. Go and talk to people, give out business cards and find a way to remember them all at the end of the night. Be casual but professional. And overall, adapt your speech to your audience! Remember if you’re talking to tech people or investors.
The following day, you need to send follow-up emails to all the people you got a business card from. It could be a simple ‘it was nice to meet you yesterday’ or an email asking for another meeting if you think you could potentially do some business together.
The important thing is that you put yourself out there and spread the word about your products or services and how brilliant they are!