There is no denying that networking is amongst the top keys to success – whether you are looking for a career change or wanting to set up a business, you need to network. I’ve always been scared of going out of my way to connect with people but I’ve come to realise that it isn’t as dreadful as I thought.
It pays off to know yourself
It’s important to know your why, for both yourself or your business. You have to believe in yourself and personal conviction. Take some time to think about your identity (as a career girl or an entrepreneur) and what it is that makes you or your product stand out. If there is a particular problem you are solving, know what it is. When you know who you are it gives you more confidence.
Come up with an ‘elevator’ pitch
Can you sell yourself or services in under 30 seconds? Your elevator pitch is a short overview of who you are, and what you offer. When done correctly it should convince others why they should work with you or why they shouldn’t throw away your business card in the trash right after your meeting. No grandmother stories, be specific and to the point but captivating.
Make the first move
I’m still working on this myself but don’t be afraid to make the first contact, just do it. What is the worst that could happen? Email not replied, the person doesn’t take interest in you – it doesn’t matter, at least you know you’ve tried. You appear bolder and more confident if you walk up to someone, introduce yourself and start a conversation.
Open to new relationships
If you meet someone new at an event, follow up with an email or a message so that they can remember you or your product. That way you’re taking the first step in strengthening the connection you just made, and if they reply why not set up a tea or coffee date? In today’s era how far you go is determined by how strong your network is, it’s all about who you know, who they know and who they can introduce you to.
You know what they say about what happens when preparation meets opportunity? Success! I went to a networking event a few weeks ago and it was great connecting with various fempreneurs but I realised my greatest mistake that night was not having business cards – I hadn’t carried my corporate ones or my personal business ones, what a pity right? People might ask you questions, always be ready to answer questions and counter rejection.
Spend some time practicing. Start online rather than face to face. Connect with people on social media, friends of friends in order to build your confidence and then you can move on to attending events and strangers. Ultimately, if you’re prepared you will feel confident and you can do it.
Any other thoughts on networking? Join the discussion below.