Networking Tips for Small Business Owners
“Networking” is one of those words that everyone responds to differently. If you’re a charming, extroverted, people-oriented person, then networking probably feels no different than holding a normal conversation. If you’re more of a thinker than a talker, networking might be something that worries, irritates, or even terrifies you.
No matter who you are, networking is something that anyone can master. We’re going to discuss a few secrets to making any networking opportunity successful, but first, we want to emphasize this one crucial factor: networking is about creating experiences and building your brand.
What do we mean by that? Well, all networking opportunities should create an experience for the people you’re networking with. It can be something as simple as a conversation: if your elevator speech or the backstory of your business moves your audience, that’s a positive experience! It can also involve hosting your own networking events, complete with a nice dinner, live entertainment, anything to show potential partners and investors that you’re the real deal. Whatever you do, you have to lead with your brand – your brand is the personality of your company, and your networking presence should immerse people into your brand experience, so they know what they’re getting from you.
How do you best create experiences and build your brand? Consider the following tips:
Prepare your elevator speech
You only get one chance to put your best foot forward, so why risk it? Your elevator speech is your business pitch, and a good speech is concise, interesting, and builds your brand while making your products/services attractive. You never know when you’ll need to give your speech, but you can expect to repeat it many times at any networking event.
Don’t just prepare it – memorize it! Your speech will be convincing the more natural it sounds, and if you’re lost in the conversation or don’t know how to respond to a question, the answer might be back in your speech somewhere. A strong elevator speech helps you hit the ground running in any conversation, so spend as much time as you need to make it perfect, though keep it short – a minute max.
Forge mutual interests
Networking is never one-sided, your potential clients, partners, and investors need to know how a relationship with your business benefits both parties. Of course, this is something you’ll rehearse in your elevator speech, but your relationship should go deeper. Get to know your potential partners! What are their interests or hobbies, where did they grow up or go to school, how can you connect with them outside of just shop-talk? At the end of the day, people want to work with people, not businesses, and learning about others while inviting them into your own life can set you apart from the rest.
Rounding out this article is the same advice you hear from every article – just be yourself. And it’s the truth for two reasons: first, as a representative of your business you are also building your company’s brand, and presenting yourself authentically will naturally interest potential partners. Building your brand, creating an experience, and forging a mutual interest all benefit from just being yourself. Second, it will help you be more confident! Presenting yourself authentically and professionally will take the pressure off by making your conversations that much easier. All you have to do is put your best foot forward, and everything else will come naturally.
Need help writing your elevator speech or building your brand? Summit Collaborations can help! We offer creative writing and content services to businesses looking to improve their brand and networking skills. Learn more about what we do or book a call with our CEO, Ashlee, today!