Charleston Entrepreneurs: Make the Most Out of Networking Events
By: The Harbor Entrepreneur Center
In case you didn’t notice, May was a big month for Charleston Entrepreneurs. From Steve Case’s “Rise of the Rest” tour to the Founders Ball, we were working hard to provide some incredible ways for you to connect with the entrepreneur community. Did you, as an entrepreneur, capitalize on this? For next time, here are the best ways to make the most out of networking events.
That’s right. Just show up. The biggest secret to networking is to simply make the effort to be there. The rest will fall into place. Understand that networking and running a business go hand in hand. Show up on time or early to take advantage of initial conversations and opportunities.
Shift Your Focus
Some people cringe at the idea of attending a networking event. Why? Because of the false presumption that the goal is to SELL or meet hordes of new people. The fact of the matter is that it’s not likely that you will close any deals at the event itself. The best networkers are those that are masters at making other people feel special. Your focus should be on looking for opportunities to develop just a couple new friendships. You know, be nice. Easy enough.
Ask Questions & Truly Listen
You’ve probably heard the quote, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” This can be one of the most challenging aspects of successful networking, but it also represents one of your biggest opportunities. Set yourself apart from the crowd by asking genuine questions and truly listen to the response. Before moving on to the next topic, address their response.
In other words, don’t let your nerves get the best of you and dominate all of the conversations you’re apart of. Remember, you’re there to make friends. Know when it’s your time to zip your mouth and give other people a chance to shine.
Be Prepared to Make an Impression
We hate to state the obvious, but make a good first impression. Cover all your bases: take a shower, look professional and keep a few of business cards on hand. More than likely, you alone will be representing your brand. Make sure it’s something you’re proud of! A smile and great eye contact never hurt.
Before the event, take a few mental notes on what you’ve been working on recently and a few sentences on what your company does. Remember, it’s more important to get across your PASSION for what you do than the nitty gritty details during an initial conversation. Keep conversations light and informal.
Remember that a networking event is just the beginning of a potentially beneficial businesses relationship down the road. A good rule of thumb is to contact your new connections within 48 hours of the event. Looking for bonus points? Mention something you discussed during the event to show that you really were listening.
Happy networking, Charleston!
Have questions or comments? We’d love to hear from you below!
The Harbor Entrepreneur Center