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Networking Tips for Small Business Owners

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Networking Tips for Small Business Owners

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Growing a business involves many tasks that aren't directly related to the core product or service that you're selling. From bookkeeping and operations management to raising capital and sales and marketing, small business owners wear many hats! As Director of Strategic Accounts for Supporting Strategies | Los Angeles, I've heard from a number of emerging business owners that one of their biggest challenges is networking.

Networking is a great way to build your business, whether you're looking to raise money, recruit talent, find new customers or establish strategic partnerships. And just like business owners can learn how to read a profit and loss statement, they can also learn how to make the most of a networking event.

Five Tips for Successful Networking
Networking events provide excellent opportunities to develop valuable relationships. Make the most of your next networking event with these tips:
  1. Arrive early. If you're one of the first ones there, the next ones to arrive will naturally come up to you and start a conversation. By default, you'll be part of the group that new arrivals want to join.
  1. Thank the host or leader for inviting you. It's polite, and if the host knows who you are and what you're interested in, he or she may introduce you to another person in the room who could be a great contact.
  1. Prepare. Know whom you want to meet and practice what you're going to say about yourself. You may want to present yourself differently to different people, so prepare several different short statements to describe yourself and your business — one for each type of audience. You don't have to explain everything to everyone all in one breath, either; most people won't remember it all anyway. Instead, focus on trying to pique someone's interest just enough that they want to follow up with you after the event to dive deeper.
  1. Listen. Make sure you listen when the other person talks — you may learn something valuable. People will be more interested in you when they feel like you're interested in them, so be ready to ask open-ended questions and genuinely show interest. In fact, I try to learn about the other person before I start talking about myself. That way, I can adjust my pitch to best align with their interests.
  1. Find common ground. Discover what the other person is interested in and hone in on things you have in common. Whether it's family, sports, school, geography or anything else, it's human nature for folks to open up more to others who are similar to themselves. As long as you stay genuine, this trick naturally turns strangers into new people in your network.

After the event, don't forget to follow up with the people you've met. Invite them to coffee or lunch, or to another networking event you're involved in. The more you network, the more comfortable you'll be.

For more information about how to make the most of your next networking event, read Lori Kunkel's article, Being an Accidental Networker.

Marc Honorof

Author:

Marc Honorof

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This website is created by Supporting Strategies to provide general bookkeeping and accounting information only. Supporting Strategies does not provide tax, legal or accounting advice, and the information contained herein is not intended to do so. As such, the information provided should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional tax, legal, and accounting advisors, and you should consult with a tax, legal and accounting professional before engaging in any transaction.