• Susanne Birgersdotter

Networking is essential to being in business. Entrepreneurs should always be on the lookout for new businesses, and that means new deals, new partners, and wider business coverage. To get to a wider range of business coverage, we will need to make a connection with the people in it. Establishing great relations with the people behind the businesses is the first step to getting great business deals.

Business networking is more than just socializing, although it works similarly to what we usually do when going out and meeting new friends. In business, we need to be more specific and intentional if we are to get positive results. However, there is also a thin line between doing it right to being too forward.

Here are some tips to effective business networking that will help you gain friends and business deals;

* Dress for success – Always dress appropriately. Every event you attend is an opportunity to meet new people. But you’ll also need to be on your best to make the right connections and dressing up is an essential part of that. The outfit that worked well in the sit-down dinner party might be frowned upon in a day-time sports fundraising event.

* Meaningful conversations – Improve your chances of making an impression by going into meaningful conversations. People will likely shake hands and get introduced to hundreds in an hour-long event and will only remember a handful after. Those who remain in their memory are those they’ve actually conversed with and made an impactful remark.

* The giver gets the most attention – Always be on the lookout to help – offer help, give references, provide better options. Helping out is always a good thing, not just in business but as a person too.

* Listening gets you far – When in an event, we tend to half-listen, appearing to be in a conversation as we try to take on the rest of the room. This practice is so off-putting and rude. Listen to understand and learn new things. Give the person your full attention, even if for only a few minutes. You will learn something, and that person will remember you.

* Be a person first, the CEO next – People who already know you business-wise will look forward to getting to know the person, and those who don’t know you will not be impressed with your business unless you first impress them with who you are, the person. Be authentic, be honest, and be memorable.

* Have a business spiel ready, but only say it when necessary – Be ready with your business spiel but use it only when the situation calls for it. Having one on your mind, carefully worded and practiced will eliminate awkward situations where you stumble for words to appropriately describe your business.

* Observe proper etiquette – Committing a pas faux in social events is disastrous, especially when you’re striving to be remembered. Avoid risqué outfits, controversial comments, and outrageous conduct. There are more appropriate places for that, and business networking is not one of those.

*Always go prepared – Be prepared for every event you will be attending. Learn more about the people you will meet there – their companies, interests, and concerns. Knowing a little more about them will give you an opportunity to engage them in meaningful conversation, get their attention and make an impression.

* Work on your first impression – The first seven seconds of meeting a person is crucial. In this short span of time, we assess the person and create a lasting impression. Make yours a good one. Practice your handshake, your smile, your intro and mind your overall stance and composure.

* Forget your phone – Ditch the phone or put it in silent mode. People do not appreciate being interrupted by a message alert or a call while going through an important discourse. Do not embarrass yourself with this very newbie mistake. If you get an alert, excuse yourself appropriately and leave the room to attend to it.

* Go meet the strangers – Don’t just target the people you already know. Go for the unknowns too. They are in the event for a reason, find out how you can mutually help one another. You might be the break they are waiting for, and they might be the solution to your problems.

Many businesses are built on referrals and a solid network, and no business will succeed without the backing of your industry and community. Thus, creating a presence and positive relationships with the people you work with and work for – clients, partners, suppliers, investors, is crucial to your success. Having more friends in business is good but having the right friends in business is better.