Networking comes in all shapes and sizes, especially in the digital realm. I would know, having just hosted The Freedom Summit for Rebel Office – a one-day digital conference where networking was available not only within the Workshops with our experts but in Mastermind Mixers after and a Facebook community specifically for the event.
But networking can also be intimidating. I’m also speaking from experience as an introvert, where I’ve talked myself out of going to more events within hours of going more than I’ve actually gone to any. Which is a lot, because I’ve gone to my fair share of networking opportunities.
As a business owner, networking is non-negotiable. It can pivot, sky-rocket, propel, push and ignite your business forward. And the fear of it could be the one thing holding you back from your business truly taking off.
So I’ve collected 4 top tips to kill it at your next networking event. With these tips, ultimately, you’re showing up prepared, professional and ready to enjoy engaging with whoever you may cross paths with.
Tip No. 1: Show up as your best self when networking
First impressions go a long way, so clean yourself up. Show up as the best version of yourself, which means if you need to give yourself a pep talk and be your own cheerleader before walking in, do it. Have a few good, deep breaths, remind yourself who you are as a total boss, and walk into that room with confidence, knowing that you look great, you feel great, and this is going to be great. So many greats!
Tip No. 2: Make the first move
Understand that most people are actually uncomfortable at these events. And sure, the more you go to, the easier it gets. But push yourself out of your comfort zone. Decide in 3… 2… 1… that you’re going to just go for it, break the ice and spark a conversation first. It will not only project more confidence, but it will also calm down whoever you are going up to and they will appreciate it as well. But how? One of our Workshop Hosts for the Freedom Summit – Emily Merrell of Six Degrees Society – recommends a simple compliment to ease anxiety, build trust, and ultimately start a great conversation flow.
Tip No. 3: Be a good listener
It is not just about you and pushing your own agenda! Listen to what others are saying, and I mean truly listen so that you can engage in more meaningful conversation. A bonus would be if you actually discover that you can help them out in any way! Discovering a way to offer your assistance, whether it’s connecting them with someone else, sending them a resource you’ve come across, or whatever, leads us to…
Tip No. 4: Continue the conversation
Have a way to continue the conversation post-event. This is where business cards or social media handles come in handy (depending on if you’re in person or across screens). Whatever people are saying about business cards these days and how they’re old school, the fact of the matter is that you need something to guarantee they’re going to be able to reconnect with you and vice versa.
If you discussed that you would reconnect for whatever purpose, either to share information or to simply connect, make sure you follow through. Do not miss this opportunity simply because you forget or don’t feel like it and will do it later. Give it 1-4 days, then send the email or DM.
If you hadn’t explicitly determined a way to connect post-event, send them an email anyway! Let them know how great it was chatting and maybe introduce more details about your business that you hadn’t had the opportunity to chat about in person. What do you have to lose, right?
Ultimately, when it comes to networking, listen, share and just go for it. Surround yourself with opportunities to engage with other entrepreneurs, business owners and industry experts. Connecting doesn’t need to cost you. If done correctly, it will bring in far more than you’ll ever put out.