Networking is an essential skill that will help you grow and improve your business. Developing and maintaining a strong circle of contacts will help you connect with potential investors, partners, and skilled employees.
Networking can be done in person at different events or via email and social media. While networking, the first impression you make will determine whether you will hear back from that person or not. To make a great first impression, you should develop and practice your ‘elevator speech’ and learn to write effective emails.
Develop and practice your elevator speech – a short speech that describes you and what you do. The elevator speech should be no more than 20-30 seconds- as if you were to meet a potentially important contact for the first time in an elevator and he/she asked you: “what do you do?” you would have about 20-30 seconds to explain and make an impressive impact so that person asks for your contact details. Your elevator speech should be memorable, interesting and succinct.
- Start by describing what your business does. Focus on the problems that your business solves and how you help people. Add information or statistic to show the value in what you do. Identify what makes you or your business unique. What do you do that no one else does?
- Ask an open-ended question to involve the person in the conversation.
- Practice! Practice your speech with a timer to make sure it is no longer than 30 seconds. You can practice your speech with friends and family.
Learn to write emails
You should know how to write a good email both during the ‘outreach’ stages of networking and when you have already established a connection.
to develop your network, you can send out emails to people whose work you are interested in.
- Keep the email short and simple. You have to remember; the people you are reaching out to are very busy and will probably not read a long and complicated email. So don’t waste their time. A short paragraph is more than enough!
- Make it about them, not you! Research the person you are reaching out to. Learn what they are passionate about and what they are working on. In your first email, talk mostly about them.
- Find a connection: this could be either a mutual friend or an interest that you can connect over. Finding a connection will make you more memorable to the reader.
As you build your network, use email to stay in touch with the contacts you have made so far. Staying in constant contact is often more important than making new connections.
- Don’t panhandle: If the only time you are emailing a contact is when you need something from them, you are doing it wrong. Networking is not all about what you can get out of your contacts, but also what you can give. It has to be a give and take relationship.
- Send your contacts interesting emails: this is where your research comes in hand. Email them about articles or events that you think might interest them based on their passions. Ask them thoughtful questions regarding their business etc.
Lastly, you don’t have to wait for a special event or conference to start networking. Make networking part of your daily routine. Start by talking to your friends and neighbours about what you do. Chances are your neighbours know someone who would be interested in learning more about your business. So don’t discount the people around you!