The prospect of networking for your small business may fill you with joy, dread, terror, or some other strong emotion. Whatever your feelings about networking, if you want to scale your business, getting out there and meeting industry professionals is a must.
Here’s a rundown of how to network with the goal of connecting with people who can help you scale up your business.
Why Should I Network?
A team of 1 can be toppled pretty quickly when storms come. As you strive to grow your business rapidly, you’ll need support from mentors to guide you, staff members to help you execute, investors to support you financially, and colleagues to give you a second opinion and encouragement. Networking can help catalyze the process of growing your connections.
How Do I Prepare for Networking?
Most people dread networking because of the inevitable awkwardness of figuring out what to say to a stranger you’ve just met. To avoid this situation, prepare your pitch in advance—a couple of sentences about who you are, what your business does, and what you’re passionate about. Depending on your networking goals and who you’re speaking with, you’ll want to tailor this pitch to be relevant to your listener.
Another simple way to prepare is to bring business cards. This gives you an easy way to break the ice, tell people who you are, and provide the information they need to contact you later.
How Can I Make the Most of Networking Events?
Your time is valuable, so you should put in some effort up front to make sure you get the most out of each networking event you attend. If possible, research the attendee list ahead of time to identify key people you want to chat with. Define your goals for each event in advance, and make sure your time is spent pursuing these goals during the mixer. After the event, make sure to reach out to anyone you want to continue building a relationship with to continue the conversation.
How Will Networking Help Me Scale My Business?
Scaling up requires you to add new staff members, find additional vendors, and potentially partner with investors. Networking provides an opportunity to make connections with all kinds of people who may be able to contribute to your business’s success, whether directly or indirectly.
The Bottom Line
For an entrepreneur who wants to scale his or her business, networking isn’t an option—it’s a necessity. By setting goals and preparing in advance, you can minimize the stress associated with networking and ensure that the time you spend at events is time well spent.