Michael Gunther, founder and managing partner of Collaboration, recently facilitated a networking workshop with associate consultant, Eric Hubbs, presented by the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce. Networking is a basic and critical key to succeeding in small business, but you must know how to be effective in order to gain any value from it. Here are the three keys:
Before you attend any event, create a plan. Who do you want to talk to or meet? What questions will you ask? What value could you provide them? Did you remember to bring enough business cards?
Everyone has nerves, even seasoned networkers. Be yourself. The first 30 seconds are when the first impression is made, and therefore the most critical. Being prepared will allow you to engage successfully. At networking events, everyone is there for the same reason. Keep your focus, and keep moving. Say hello to people you know, but reach out to those you don’t. That’s where the value in networking is created.
Don’t lose your momentum! After you leave, reach out to those people you met. Call or email to get together for coffee or lunch. Begin to build a relationship and expand your reach. Staying in contact is one of the most difficult pieces of the puzzle because it requires specific actions. You just have to make it happen.