If you’re a startup, you should be attending or hosting networking events. These events are designed to increase your visibility, and help you form potentially profitable relationships. Plus, the keynote speakers will introduce you to new trends, and provide you with valuable information to expand your business.
Why You Should Attend Networking Events When First Starting Out
As a new startup, you need to build relationships within your industry. How else are you going to make money, and start building name recognition?
Entrepreneur contributor, Mike Fishbein, recounts how networking events helped him get a leg up on startups:
“When I wanted to get into startups, I hardly knew anyone in the industry – or even anyone who knew anyone in the industry…Events allowed me to meet people in the industry that I couldn’t have reached through referrals.”
Fishbein found that events helped him meet a lot of people without having to make a huge time commitment. “After you build a small base network, you can start getting referrals from them, which is probably the best way to meet new people.”
How to Get More Business at Networking Events
The old adage, “It’s not about the quantity, it’s about the quality,” rings true at networking events. These events can certainly result in a huge amount of connections, but real profitability comes from honest, memorable engagements. You’ll get the most out of the event, if you try and give your best self to everyone you meet.
After the event, make sure to follow-up with your connections. Begin with your highest quality connections first – who was most enthused by your pitch or project? Who mentioned they were looking for a worthy investment? Then, follow-up with everyone else. Don’t be afraid to email, call, or text. You received that contact information for a reason, so use it.
How to Introduce Yourself with Confidence
Perhaps you’re weary of events because you’re not a confident person. You’re not alone! Lots of people lack confidence when it comes to introducing themselves. Forbes’ offers the following suggestions for overcoming introversion in order to break the ice in a memorable fashion:
- Talk about where you are. For example, you could say: “I’m glad the conference is here in San Francisco because it’s a great place to do business.” or “Is this your first time in Cincinnati?”
- “Ask for advice. Asking for advice can be both a conversation starter, and a useful way to get helpful information.”
- Talk about current events. Prepare for the day by watching the news or reading a local newspaper.
- Share something unique about yourself.
- Listen to the people you’re talking to, and ask questions to keep the conversation going.
How to Host Your Own Networking Event
Don’t want to waste your time hoping to randomly bump into a potentially profitable connection? You’ll make more headway, and have more control in who you’re meeting, when you host your own event. It’s easiest to throw an event if you’re organized. Event management software allows you to track registrations and customize how your event is conducted.
Don’t invest a lot of money into your first event. Instead, throw a mixer or something light to get to know a new group of people. If all goes well, you can host a bigger event next time.
Get Out There and Promote Your Startup
It’s important to remember that events should be light and fun. Just be yourself, stay relaxed, and be about your startup. Share with enough people, and after a while it will become second nature.