7 Practical Networking Tips For Entrepreneurs
#1: You can say anything in 3 sentences. Anything. So, get your introduction down to 3 sentences. I don’t want to hear about your childhood and I most certainly don’t want to hear the dirty details of your relationship drama. Try this formula: NAME- PROBLEM WITH THE WORLD THAT YOU ARE SOLVING- HOW YOU ARE SOLVING IT. Here’s mine: Hi there! I am Ryan Negri. The world needs more entrepreneurs focused on solving problems and building great businesses. I focus on helping entrepreneurs solve problems using technology at Laicos and by mentoring and investing in talented entrepreneurs at NEGRICo.
#2: Get uncomfortable. If you own the room and already know everyone, get out of your gold fish bowl. The last thing you want to do is become a whale in a fish pond. Aim to be a feisty guppy in a room full of whales and sharks. Stop connecting with the same people in the same place trying to sell them the same damn thing you’ve been selling for months.
#3: Start with a smile. Your face is your greeting, so start by making it friendly and inviting. And for heavens sake, don’t just smile at business events. I am always smiling at strangers, who have turned into friends, who have turned into clients.
#4: Get your new friends talking. The key to networking is finding the personal connection that you share with each individual. Channel your inner ESPN anchor. Ask the bold questions and really listen for the answer. My personal favorite is “What was the first professional sporting event you ever went to?” I try to stay away from business topics unless my new friend absolutely insists. You will discover more about the person by asking them to share something unexpected.
#5: Assume I do NOT want what you are selling. Because here is the God’s honest truth: NO ONE WANTS TO BUY WHAT YOU ARE SELLING. They want to buy into you, your expertise, and your success. People do not buy from brands, but they do buy from people.
#6: Leave your business card in your wallet and get out your smart phone. Your business card is awesome and if you ask for it, I will have it ready. My goal is not to collect your card. In fact, I don’t want your business card! This is not the Vegas strip and I don’t want the naked lady equivalent of your business. I want to bust out my iPhone and connect with you on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Let’s be honest: I am not using you or your services unless I trust you and that is not going to happen in a 5 minute chit chat at a professional event. It can happen over time as I allow you into my world and I engage with you in yours.
#7: Fine wine over box wine. Building relationships is not about quantity, so focus on connecting with a few select people that intrigue you or share your energy. Follow up with the people you connected with through social networks or email. Invest in more time to connect through a lunch or drinks. Never forget that 1 passionate person is more effective than 40 merely interested. Build an army of passionate people who believe in you and build that army one soldier at a time.