As an entrepreneur, networking is critical. I had thought in college it was excruciating because I was meeting people I didn’t know and had a lot of projects to finish. Guess what? Nothing has changed. I have projects to finish and I am still meeting people I don’t know, but it is less excruciating and more exciting! Why? Because I take advantage of the opportunity to network with intention instead of networking how I feel. In other words, network like you mean it.
If you’re invited to an event, don’t go to a networking event just to collect and pass out business cards. You don’t know what to be “that” person. Go with a goal in mind. How many genuine contacts do you want to make? How many conversations do you want to have? How many people do you want to reconnect with from the last event? Goals help you stay focused on WHY you are there instead of trying to find a reason to ditch or hit the bar.
Do you meet with a group of professionals? You should consider joining one. By meeting with a group of professionals (in your field or not), it challenges YOU to stay on top in your field.
- I am a member of the Beaches Business Link in Ponte Vedra Beach. We are a group that meet bi-weekly to hear a guest speaker or apply what we learned at a working roundtable. I am one of the few marketers in this group, so it gives me an advantage to share my expertise while meeting other professionals in other businesses. We have a networking mixer on Thursday, August 15. Register here to come!
- I am also a part of the JAMA (Jacksonville American Marketing Association) group that meets once a month. The group is full of marketing and advertising professionals, so it is easy to blend in. How do I stand out? I make sure my marketing is cohesive with what I represent each month. My goal for these meetups is to connect and reconnect with those I know professionally.
After an event is over, I use the LinkedIn CardMunch app to scan the business cards into my database. Within 24 hours, the information on the business card is saved on my phone and I can find the contact on LinkedIn. I always, always send a personalized message when connecting on LinkedIn. If the contact had made a valuable impression on me, I will send a thank you card in the mail. For tips on writing these cards or maintaining what I call, “Network Relationship Etiquette” read about them here.
Do you network like you mean it? I’d love to exchange ideas!
If you LIKE my business page on Facebook, you will see a common thing happening on Fridays I call a “Friday Focus”. The topic varies by what you suggest or what comes to mind. My goal is to help YOU, the reader, to take away something valuable than you may not have considered before.