I’ve attended a lot of networking events since 2009 when I started college. Once I moved out West to the “land where I knew no one,” networking became even more important because I needed new clients for my small business. I’ve found that forging the right connections has helped me build my business and brand locally and eventually it got me national clients.
Most of the networking events I attend center around women in business but a few times a month I go to broader ones. I have to say that I make most of my most valuable connections in more localized groups.
It’s very rare that one networking group has EVERYTHING so I’ll talk about what I look for when I go to different meetings.
Peers Who Might Become Genuine Friends
When I go to networking events I try to make personal connections as well as business connections. It’s all in how you approach conversations. I ask the person I’m talking to a lot of questions that don’t center around their business or how they can help me. I just try to have a genuine conversation. I also ask a lot of open ended questions. You’d be surprised by how many friendships have started because I attended an event.
It goes without saying that I’m always trying to find potential clients. I do this by asking questions about a person’s business, their marketing strategy and how well they think their current plan is working for them. Sometimes it’s really hard to discern if someone might benefit from my services so I Google them and send a follow up email. I don’t spam because that sucks but I do try to see if I can provide genuine value.
Women Who May Become Mentors
I’ve had many mentors during my career and I had an amazing mentor in college who I appreciate so much! She helped me clarify my goals, get internships and leave college a better woman. When I approach women at networking events I make sure to ask a lot of questions about the trajectory of their career and what things they think helped them get this far. It helps to learn from someone who’s been where you are in business.
I love creating mutually beneficial partnerships with people. For my line of business website designers, graphic artists and writers in other genres are all people who I can help and who can help me. PR and Marketing professionals are good allies as well.
Think Tank Buddies
It’s important to find honest reliable people to bounce ideas off as an entrepreneur and even as a blogger. I facilitate a mastermind group but I started as part of one. You have to be really careful about this one because you may run into people who want to steal your ideas or who are negative. You have to be sure you’re surrounding yourself with intelligent people.
Have you networked extensively? How has it worked out for you?