5 Tips On How To Become A Successful Networker 5 Tips On How To Become A Successful Networker As an entrepreneur, networking is essential to the growth of your personal and professional brand. It is like being your own personal billboard! It isn’t just about attending events – it’s about establishing and forming relationships and connections with people who can give you valuable feedback and support when needed. It is great for building business contacts, discovering potential clients and customers, making connections with others in your industry and promoting your personal brand. While it may seem so, networking is also not only about talking about who you are, what you do and what you can offer others. It is about listening to what others have to say to determine the success of your potential relationship. Here are some tips on how to become a successful networker. Don’t be afraid to self-promote at networking events Networking is a great marketing tool. Attending a networking event provides you with a room full of influential people in your industry. By simply talking to these people, you are exposed to potential clients or customers. For many entrepreneurs, the idea of self-promotion is most often linked to being slimy and self-centred. However, there is nothing wrong with being confident about your expertise. Start telling your story – the struggles and the successes as people will more likely resonate with your story than your annual turnover and your bestselling product. Take control Networking isn’t about collecting as many business cards as possible. It is about meeting and building a relationship with people who can offer you valuable information and knowledge. At a networking event, don’t wait for someone to approach you. You can take control by approaching a group of people as it is often easier to join a conversation than starting one. The more people who are aware of you and your brand, means the more people who will make contact when the need arise. You can never have too many contacts So who should you network with? From a business development perspective, it is a good idea to network with potential clients. It is also a good idea to introduce yourself to other experts in your industry as they can offer you valuable advice and information. Don’t forget about those in fields that deal with the same clients you do, they could prove to be great referrers. Being an entrepreneur can be an isolating and stressful experience, but when networking you learn so much about different businesses, what is currently happening in the business community and you are given the opportunity to share your experiences. Plus, there is no such thing as having too many contacts. Dos and Don’ts of networking While it is one of the most cost-effective marketing tool there are many dos and don’ts that comes with networking. They are: Do: Have a descriptive elevator statement prepared Bring business cards but hand out with care Introduce yourself and start conversations with others Keep moving around the room; don’t just speak to one person Don’t: Attend events with a personal friend Look around the room when talking to someone Oversell – people are there to get to know you Say you will keep in touch but not bother. How to become a successful networker Going alone is the key to good networking. By taking someone with you to a networking event, you are more likely to use that time to catch up instead of networking with important people. Successful networkers don’t let the relationship end at the end of the event. Make sure that relationships extend past the event and you connect with the people you’ve met through their social media like LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook. Networking is one of the easiest and effective ways of increasing profile and acquiring new business and reaching hundreds of potential clients. Catriona Pollard Catriona Pollard is the author of From Unknown To Expert, a step by step framework designed to help entrepreneurs develop effective PR and social media strategies to become recognised as influencers in their field.