These professional networking tips will help you learn business networking skills and use local networking events to start building your professional network.
Before social networking, there was local networking. Before the age of the internet, people met in person at local events to build relationships and conduct business.
Even if you have an online business and networking through social media and virtual business networking events is easy and efficient, it still helps to meet people in-person at industry conferences or events.
Many top business people still prefer doing business in person, because it’s only when you actually meet someone and get a sense of who they are, can you decide whether you really want to do business with them or not.
Now that the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us and local business networking events are starting to pick up speed once more, you can start going to local networking events for business owners once again.
“The currency of real networking is not greed, but generosity.” ~ Keith Ferrazzi
- What are local networking events?
- Who organizes local networking events?
- Professional networking tips for local networking events
- #1. Choose the right events
- #2. Know your goal or plan
- #3. Study up on your audience
- #4. Dress the part and smile
- #5. Know the layout of the place
- #6. Introduce yourself first
- #7. Show interest in others
- #8. Learn their names & faces
- #9. Introduce them to others
- #10. Move through the room
- #11. Bring your best self
- #12. Don’t forget to follow up
- #13. Connect on social networks
- #14. Start your own business networking group
- #15. Improve your professional networking skills
- Business tips & tutorials
What are local networking events?
Local networking events are opportunities for professionals to meet and connect with each other in person. These events can be informal, such as a happy hour or mixer, or they can be more formal, such as a conference or seminar.
Local networking events can be a great way to start building your professional network, making business connections, and expanding your network.
“Networking is an investment in your business. It takes time and when done correctly can yield great results for years to come.” ~ Diane Helbig
Who organizes local networking events?
Local networking events can be organized by professional networking groups or organizations. However, some common examples of those who might organize a networking event include industry organizations, businesses, or even professional networkers.
The purpose of the event will often dictate who is responsible for organizing it. For example, if a business meet-up is being held for business purposes, then it makes sense that a business would be in charge of organizing these business networking events.
With company networking events that are held for professional development reasons, the HR department or an external organization focused on professional development would likely be responsible for organizing the event.
Entrepreneur networking events like TiECon are conferences held with the aim of helping entrepreneurs network with each other and listen to inspiring business leaders share their advice and expertise.
With the growth of co-working businesses that benefit from having people come to work in person, many coworking organizations now advertise regular professional meetups and startup networking events to promote networking in entrepreneurship groups.
Professional networking tips for local networking events
Professional networking is a great way to grow your local business by building strong relationships with potential clients and customers and becoming known as a local expert in your niche.
But, if you want to be successful at professional networking, you must know how to do it effectively. Otherwise, you might not only fail to accomplish your goals, but it could backfire.
This article lists several essential and helpful business networking tips that will help you learn strong networking skills.
#1. Choose the right events
The first step to building a professional network is to know why you want to go to events. If you want to meet your competition, and potential clients, or connect with investors, choose entrepreneur networking events like TiECon.
If you want to meet your ideal client, choose events that will attract them. Start with small business networking events and work your way up to bigger ones.
Both are beneficial and while small business networking groups are good for making business connections one-on-one, large groups give you the benefit of expanding your network.
You can often find local events via Facebook groups, and also via local networking sites like Meetup.com. Also, search Google or check out Eventbrite for local events in your area and pick the ones that will help you reach your goals.
You can find women’s professional networking groups, business meet-ups, local networking groups, and entrepreneur networking events by entering the following keywords into Google:
- Local networking events near me
- Business meetups near me
- Business networking events near me
- Small business networking groups near me
- Professional business women’s network near me
You may not realize it, but you can likely find at least one local networking event per week to attend in and near your local area that will fit your criteria.
#2. Know your goal or plan
Before you show up at any event, you should have a plan. Each event will call for a different plan to help you network more effectively. When you know the audience and how to appeal to them, you’ll do a lot better at each event.
You may have a goal to meet other people in your industry or to meet people who may qualify to become your customer. Each event goal will depend on who is attending as much as who is hosting the event.
“Your network is your net worth.” ~ Porter Gale
#3. Study up on your audience
You can do this a little before you show up by looking at the membership directory of some types of groups, but you can also do it on the fly as you’re at the event.
Take time to listen to the audience during socializing so that you can get to know them. If it’s a longer networking event, use the first day to listen, then the second day to get to know people more and the third day to let them know you.
Try going to a lot of business networking events in the beginning, so that you get plenty of practice and build strong networking skills. Then narrow it down to events your ideal clients attend.
#4. Dress the part and smile
It’s hard to remember that first impressions play a big role. You should be yourself, of course. Dress your truth and your style, not someone else’s.
Depending on the event you go to, you may need to dress a certain way. For example, if you’re going to a business networking event with a lot of lawyers, you probably should wear formal business networking attire.
But, if you’re going to an event full of coders or people who work from home, you can probably dress more casually. In every case, you should dress how you feel most comfortable, but also in a way that makes your audience more comfortable.
Of course, you do want to look approachable, so watch how you rest your face. Some people look mean when they don’t smile, and some people look fine. Ask your friends for help and feedback so you know how you come across to others.
#5. Know the layout of the place
If the business networking event is at a hotel and offers drinks or separate socializing areas, check out the various spots people congregate.
Know where the bathroom and other key places are so that if anyone asks you can tell them. But also so you can move through the room confidently without looking lost.
#6. Introduce yourself first
When you attend any local networking event, whether it’s yours or someone else’s, one way to make an impression is to learn how to work a room. If you go in with a plan of action, you can leave as the star of the event.
In most cases, the person who puts their hand out first and introduces themselves demonstrates that they have more confidence and power than the person who waited.
Introduce yourself using a short and engaging pitch about yourself and get that awkwardness out of the way, so you can get on with getting to know people. Develop a few different ways of introducing yourself so that it’s memorable.
For example, if your name rhymes with something, you can use that to your advantage – especially if it’s a word related to your niche. You can also think of ways to insert your intro into various conversations that are common at events. You want it to be natural but memorable.
#7. Show interest in others
It’s funny how self-centered most of us are. It’s not a bad thing. It’s human nature. But you can use that in your favor by asking people appropriate questions about themselves and their business.
“The single greatest ‘people skill’ is a highly developed and authentic interest in the other person.” ~ Bob Burg
One of the best professional networking strategies for introverts is to start networking within your company to build your professional networking skills.
As an introvert, you should let them do most of the talking. People who get to talk with you will remember you more than if you did all the talking.
#8. Learn their names & faces
Some people are very good at remembering names and faces, while others aren’t. Sometimes it’s not your fault if you cannot remember faces very well, but you can train yourself to do better.
Try to connect their face and name to their business in your mind with word games. Repeat their name more than once when you meet them, and try to introduce them to at least one other person which will help you remember more.
#9. Introduce them to others
A really great way to stand out at events is to be a resource to people and conduct introductions between people that you think can help each other. When you are good at connecting with people, the expertise of others rubs off onto you.
“Networking is not about just connecting people. It’s about connecting people with people, people with ideas, and people with opportunities.” ~ Michele Jennae
#10. Move through the room
Don’t just stick with the same crowd the entire event. You want to try to talk to a few people. In fact, set a goal for how many people you want to talk to at any business networking event you go to.
It can be tempting to stick by the people you already know, but you should work the room by moving through it and meeting new people.
#11. Bring your best self
When you’re in public at an event, the worst thing you can do is start complaining about other people or things. Instead, be focused, positive, and helpful.
Bring your best self to each event by letting your confidence shine through by smiling and behaving with the poise and dignity you are capable of.
I usually like to practice a centering meditation before I attend any event, offline or online so I can stay calm and centered when meeting others.
Local networking will pay off when you pick the right events, know how to be yourself, let people know who you are, and become a resource for everyone.
If they know they can call on you to connect them to what they need, they’re going to remember you.
#12. Don’t forget to follow up
An essential part of the networking process is knowing how to follow up. Never forget to follow up with people you talked to, especially if you promised to give them some information about anything.
If you’re invited to make a presentation at a local networking event, keep in mind that you must get your new business connections to subscribe to your email newsletter or it will be hard for them to remember you when they need your services.
While many people still like to share printed business cards, you can stand out by sharing your free, customizable mTap digital card, which also acts as your business card, social media reference landing page, identification tag, sign-up form, and file-sharing tool.
Don’t immediately try to sell to your new business connections, but do follow up with any info that you promised them, or help them make connections you know would be great for them.
A great tip for following up is to send people information, eBooks, articles, or a useful freebie about topics you discussed at the business networking event.
In addition to getting them to sign up for a lead magnet, you can also ask them for their mailing address and send them some inexpensive merchandise.
For instance, you can send them a mousepad or coffee mug imprinted with your logo. This will remind them of you every time they use their computer or enjoy their coffee.
Do something nice that goes a little out of your way for the people that you really want to make an impression on. Keep your emails short and to the point by learning how to write clearly and concisely.
A well-written follow-up email helps you keep the conversation going long after the meeting or event has ended. Check out these follow-up email templates for writing the perfect follow-up email.
“You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” ~ Zig Ziglar
Another follow-up tip is to connect with those you met on professional networking sites like LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network and the best social networking site for making business connections.
You can share your posts and articles with them on LinkedIn and other professional networking sites, or get them to subscribe to your newsletter. This will help you establish your professional brand on Linkedin.
When you send a LinkedIn invite, mention at which business networking event you met them and state one positive thing about the event that really stood out to you. That will help them recall you more easily and build instant rapport.
In addition to local Facebook Groups, you can also connect with new people in your locality on the hyperlocal social networking apps below:
#14. Start your own business networking group
Starting a local business networking group on socializing sites like Meetup.com is a great way to become known for your expertise in your local community.
But, before you start one you need to think about your overall goal for starting and maintaining the group – both from the members’ perspectives and from your own.
#15. Improve your professional networking skills
Business networking events can help boost your business exponentially, but only if you learn how to make an impression. It might take a little practice, but you can get this down.
“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” ~ Brene Brown
In Keith Ferrazzi’s Complete Guide to Building Your Network course, you’ll learn what a personal network is and how it benefits you professionally and personally.
You’ll also learn how to develop the strong personal relationships needed to achieve your goals, develop deeper, stronger, more mutually beneficial relationships, and create a strategy for maintaining these relationships.
Building your business network is not hard once you develop strong networking skills. These business networking basics will help you learn the art of effective professional networking.
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