If you want to be more effective as an owner or founder, then you must focus on your networking opportunities. This process involves more than making connections with like-minded people. It also requires an emphasis on meeting individuals who can refer new opportunities to you.

Having someone positively mention your name can have a tremendous influence on the number of clients you can obtain. You already know how a positive review can cause people to buy something. That power in word-of-mouth marketing can be the difference between your company meeting its goals or filing for bankruptcy.

If you want to have a successful business networking experience, then these ideas can help you to take your work to the next level.

Attend Networking Events Regularly

Don’t underestimate the power of a local meet-up event for networking. Although some people use it as a way to get as many free cocktails as possible, serious professionals use this time to meet with other entrepreneurs and executives to build connections. It’s the best place to speak with other small business owners.

Choose Goals That Make Sense

Going into a networking event without a plan for success means that you’re on a roadmap to failure. You must begin with a clear, precise agenda with what you hope to accomplish. Why are you making this effort? Is it to meet new people, volunteer your time, or learn something new about what you do?

Make Time for Networking

Most networking events take place outside of the workplace. Many of them are after-hours opportunities that require a significant commitment to attend. You can also meet people during your time away by chatting with other parents at a sports event, meeting people during Pilates, or even when having lunch at your favorite sports bar.

Understand How Much You’re Worth

If you underestimate the value you bring to a relationship, other people will do the same. You must articulate what it is that you offer when initiating a networking opportunity. Even if your goal is to create more leads, having a well-polished short pitch that clearly communicates what you do and how you are can help to make new connections.

Have the Confidence to Break the Ice

Meeting someone new is always an awkward experience. If you have an introverted personality, then the idea of networking can seem like something close to torture! When you can identify some conversational icebreakers, then forging a new relationship won’t seem to be such a challenge. Tell someone that you like their shoes, the tie they have on, or whatever else comes to mind. You can even ask how they got started in their job to get things going.

Bring a Wingman (or Wingwoman!)

Having a buddy around can make it more comfortable to start a conversation with strangers. If you have a friend who also wants to expand their network, then have them be your wingperson at the next event. Twosomes are more common than most professionals realize. As long as you avoid the temptation of chatting with your friend or co-worker more than everyone else, then this approach can give you the confidence needed for a successful outcome.

Avoid Negativity

Although misery does love company, it does not provide a healthy start to a relationship. Some professionals use negativity as a way to forge an initial connection, but then they wonder why every conversation involves complaining. You are going to receive the energy that you put out when networking, which is why positivity is always the best approach to use. Smiling at an event creates a natural attraction that some people cannot ignore.

Always Find a Reason to Follow Up

Networking efforts break down because people put all of their cards on the table immediately when forming relationships. You need to hold something back so that you have an excuse to come back for another conversation. It doesn’t need to be a gimmick or a trick, like loaning someone a dollar. You could send someone a relevant article that goes back to your previous conversation, invite them to join a webinar, or send a note during the holiday season.

If you are finding it a challenge to locate new prospects or close on opportunities, then it could be a networking issue getting in your way. People like to do business through the lens of trust. By taking the time to build relationships each day, you are creating a foundation for future success.

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