Networking events are key to success as a small business owner, but they can be daunting. A little preparation goes a long way — so read up on our top tips to make the most of your next networking event!
Most people hate putting themselves out there, and find it especially awkward to strike up conversation with a stranger. But that’s what networking events are all about! Don’t be afraid to engage with a new person. Simply walk up to them and use a natural opening line, like, “Hello, mind if I introduce myself?” So many people feel uncomfortable at networking events that you’re typically doing people a favor by approaching them and giving them someone to talk to.
Putting the focus on the other person may feel less awkward than talking about yourself, so ask questions. Plus, the better you get to know them, the better you can tailor your sales pitch to their needs — if they’re looking for services you can provide.
Ending a conversation can be as difficult as starting one. Develop a closing line to deploy when the discussion has reached a natural end. A simple, “It’s been so nice to meet you. May I have your card so we can keep in touch?” ends the conversation gracefully and frees you up to move along and meet more people.
Ultimately, it’s not about who you meet. It’s about who remembers you! There are a number of ways to make a lasting impression.
Drawing people into conversation by asking questions is a great way to stand out. Ask them about themselves — people love talking about themselves — but you can also share information about yourself by way of asking their opinion. For instance, instead of just handing over your business card, try saying, “I just got these new business cards made. What do you think of them?” This demonstrates that you value their opinion, while making them an active participant in the conversation and inviting them to pay closer attention to what you’re saying or showing them.
Additionally, being helpful helps you stand out in a positive way. When you’re getting to know another person, don’t just give up on the conversation if their needs don’t line up with what you can provide. Instead, think about whether there’s someone you know who can help them out. It might be a friend or associate of yours, or it might even be another person you just met that night. Make the connection, and you’ll make an impression as a helpful and thoughtful individual. Plus, when people help us out, we naturally want to repay the favor, so “paying it forward” is sure to pay off for you down the line.
Bringing the right materials along with you to an event helps you in a few ways. It gives the people you meet something tangible to remember you by, and to look you up later to get in touch. It also helps you to guide the conversation. Pointing out your services on your brochure will help keep your talking points in order. Exchanging business cards is a great way to end a conversation and signal that it’s time to move on. Offering someone a coupon for your services is a great way to introduce what you do while also making a friendly gesture.
No matter how charming, confident, and helpful you may be, the materials you hand out will be the most lasting impression people will have of you. Make sure your handouts represent you the way you want to be remembered — polished, professional, and attentive to detail. If your business card, brochures, sales folders, and promotional materials are outdated or sloppy, be sure to have fresh ones designed and printed for you before your next big event. Think through how your materials will be used and have them designed and printed with practical touches, like leaving the back of your business card matte so that people can jot down notes on it.
Think beyond the obvious materials, too. Pens are always in high demand at networking events, so have some custom-made with your business logo and contact information. Then, if anyone needs to borrow a pen, hand them one and let them keep it. Practical and memorable — it’s even better than a business card!
Remember, we’re here to help you succeed. As small business owners ourselves, PostNet entrepreneurs know what it takes to stand out. Talk to us about printing networking essentials like business cards, brochures, flyers, pens, branded apparel, and much more for your next event!