As a smart business owner, you know that there are a variety of ways to get the word out about your business. One of the most cost-effective, however, is networking. Many small-business owners and entrepreneurs are out there going to events to drum up business and build relationships (read Networking Your Business for more). But the question is: Do you know how to network? If you’re not doing it well, you’re probably just wasting your time. Let’s put an end to useless time wasting and start networking well, shall we?
And You Are?
One of the best ways to let everyone know you’re open and willing to chat with them is by wearing a nametag. Your name is precious, and sharing it with the world is a gift. Most networking events have paper nametags at the check-in booth, which are just fine, but you could up your game by having a magnetic nametag. They’re not very expensive, and then you can put your name as well as company name on there. This is a great conversation starter since, with your name and company on display, people are much more apt to ask questions about your business and what you do.
Knowing where to put that nametag is another key point of how to network. Put it on your right front chest, kind of where your arm bends in if you hug yourself. It should be high, straight, and easy to read. Why the right side? When we meet people, we instinctively shake hands—with our right hands—putting that nametag right in the line of vision. Ladies, if you hold a purse on your right shoulder at networking events, you can move the nametag a little to the left. Better yet, use a cross-shoulder bag that rests on your left shoulder. Problem solved.
May I Have Your Card?
When you go to networking events, you’re likely going to meet someone who asks, “Do you have a card with you?” You should ALWAYS have cards with you. Keep them in your pocket, wallet, purse, car, computer bag, hiking backpack…anywhere you are likely to run into someone. Never should you answer that query with, “No, I didn’t bring cards” or “I just ran out.”
What should your card say? Definitely have your name, company name, and ways to contact you: phone, email, website. Make sure the font is big enough to read, so not 3 point or such silliness. If your business name doesn’t clearly state what problem you solve, it’s also smart to put a tagline or some value proposition so people understand how you can help them. (How to network pro tip: Use both sides of your business card and print them on paper that can be written on.)
It’s up to you whether or not to include your picture on your business card. Some people really like this because it helps card receivers remember you later on. A word of caution if you do choose to have your picture on your card: Make sure it’s up to date. There’s nothing worse than having a picture of 25-year-old you on your card when you’re clearly in your 50s.
Do not hand your card to everyone you meet, leave them on tables in the venue, and put them in the stalls of the restrooms. Treat your cards like money. After all, they cost you money, and some cards can get pretty expensive. Only give cards to those people who ask for them or the people you really feel could be a good connection.
Does Anyone Have a Pen?
It seems like, at some point, we all need a pen—yet not everyone carries one with them. Be the difference. Carry a pen in your pocket or purse. That way, you’ll have one when anyone needs one. (Pro tip: carry pens imprinted with your business information and give them away as people need pens). Also, you can use your pen to jot down information on the business cards of the people you meet. That way, when it’s time to follow up, you’ll have a note you can reference.
You may also want to carry a notepad with you. Something small with pull-off pages is great to put in your pocket or bag, and when you want to jot down any key points, you’ll be ready. Sometimes, the people you meet will ask for something else that’s not on your card, like information on when and where your BNI chapter meets, for instance. If there’s not enough space on the card, you can write down the information on that little piece of paper. (How to network pro-tip: Carry a notepad or sticky notes with your business name and number on them so you maintain your branding.)
Your How to Network Differentiator: Stand Out and Be Remembered
Is there something about you or your business that can become your trademark when you’re out networking? Wearing a certain color shirt / blouse, tie, pocket square, or shoes; apparel with your logo on it; a bow tie; crazy-colored hair; or a uniform will help people remember you long after the networking event. Make it either part of your personal brand or company brand so it ties in with what you’re trying to accomplish.
If you’re looking to grow your business, networking is one of the key ways to do it. Ink & Quill Communications can help. By providing smart marketing solutions, we are your outsourced CMO, and we get marketing handled. Schedule a brief consultation to learn more.