Thank you to our Guest Blogger freelance editor, Rae Steinbach.
As a solopreneur, you’re entirely responsible for promoting your business. This may involve developing and implementing marketing campaigns across a range of channels but how do you succeed at entrepreneur networking?
The Power of Face to Face
It’s important not to dismiss the power of speaking about your business face-to-face with another person. If you’re based out of a co-working space like Fueled Collective, networking may seem simpler until you meet with a few folks only to discover they aren’t familiar with your industry or aren’t a good match for your business needs. Either way, we recommend attending industry-related entrepreneur networking events. These events provide an opportunity to make connections that will help you achieve your goals more successfully.
Listen Closely at Entrepreneur Networking Events
When networking, don’t spend so much time talking about your own business that the person with whom you’re interacting has no chance to discuss their own product or service. You won’t make a good impression on anyone if you make every interaction completely about yourself.
To ensure you send the right message, practice active listening. This involves a variety of techniques, including restating what someone has said, asking questions that probe below the surface level of the conversation, and summarizing the other person’s points to demonstrate you truly listened to and absorbed what they had to say. Small gestures such as these can help you network far more effectively than you would if you were focused entirely on talking about your business.
Leave the Business Cards at Home
Passing out business cards is a staple of networking event behavior. That doesn’t mean it’s a valuable means of forging connections with other attendees. Often, people merely accept your card to be polite, never using it to actually contact you.
When attending entrepreneur networking events, it’s smarter to adopt a different technique: discuss your business long enough with a potential customer or vendor that they ask you for your business card first. Instead of supplying one, say you no longer carry business cards, but would be happy to reach out to them directly if they provide their email address.
Blogging Badass recommends taking the business cards for only those folks with whom you want to connect. Then message them on professional sites like LinkedIn and email to schedule a time to learn more about their business.
Focus on Quality Over Quantity
Don’t make the mistake of assuming effective networking involves speaking to as many people as possible during an event. Instead, go to entrepreneur networking events with an idea of who you want to meet and focus on those few professionals.
As you’re talking, avoid talking solely about business and connect on a personal level. Do they like similar restaurants as you? Do they have kids? Have they taken a trip to a place you’d like to visit or have already visited? This can make it more memorable of a connection and a more comfortable conversation.
While there are many channels through which you can promote your business, entrepreneur networking is among the best ways to meet the people with whom you want to do business.
Freelance editor Rae Steinbach is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing, of course. She can be reached on Twitter @araesininthesun.