As an entrepreneur, we are often wearing so many different hats. That means time is precious and going to every networking event in your area, or spending time on every social media platform all day is just not realistic.
So how do you keep all the plates spinning and find time to meet new people?
Here are my top 4 tips for how to get your name out there and network as an entrepreneur in the most time-efficient manner. Plus one more for when things are more established and you’re ready to keep scaling.
Until you’ve got a team to be able to share the load, avoid wasting time, money and effort networking to the masses. You don’t need to be talking with everyone, but only with those who have the highest chance of converting to customers. Or the people who know your target customers and may have a bigger platform to reach them than you do.
It’s ideal customers or bust!
When I’m planning an event, I need to know who we are talking to on a high level, then really dig down to find out what motivates them and what will keep them engaged. I need to really know the ideal attendee, their priorities, how they spend their time, their challenges, etc. This allows me to create the best experience that will not only catch their attention enough to entice them to purchase a ticket to attend, but also to stay engaged when onsite.
The same is true for your networking strategy. Once you’ve honed in on who the ideal client is that you want to target with your efforts, you need to go deeper and figure out what makes them tick. What do they want to celebrate? Who do they want to meet? What problem do they need solved?
Then you can make sure any conversation you start, online or offline, leans directly into those areas, which will help you stand out from others. Plus, it will help with your marketing and sales efforts too!
Now that you’ve clarified your audience and know what they are looking for to help their business, you need to figure out where they are spending their time.
This could be as simple as selecting the most appropriate social media platform and DM’ing or InMailing potential prospects. Even if your target clients are on multiple platforms, focus on the ones where they appear to spend the MOST time. (i.e. more posts, more engagement in comments, etc) That is where you'll get the biggest return on your efforts.
Then start thinking offline. What events are they going to? Are they part of an industry association or local chamber of commerce group? What are the top-tier conferences in their industry? (Keep in mind, that could be a different industry from yours.)
Purchase a ticket and show up.
I know it can be intimidating to walk into an event where you don’t know anyone. Upon check in, mention who you’d like to meet to the event host and/or someone at the desk and ask if they can point you in the right direction. They may take a moment to walk over to introduce the two of you themselves. Either way, you have the easiest opener ever when it comes to walking up to a stranger.
“Hi [INSERT NAME ON BADGE], I just checked in and [HOST/RECEPTION NAME] thought we should meet….”
Ice is officially broken! Now focus on getting to know them as a person and build a rapport before you start rolling out that networking strategy you’ve outlined to solve all their problems.
Yes, I know this tip may seem contradictory to Tip 1, but it’s all about the timing. When your business has reached a point where you are no longer doing #allthethings at once, then expanding your networking efforts to include referral partners and community with other entrepreneurs is worth considering.
Seek out masterminds as they are filled with like-minded individuals who are also seeking community and a network of other successful people. They can incur a higher cost of entry though so if that’s not feasible for you, a more affordable way of doing this is by joining an existing community site.
It may take a little longer to build solid relationships and cut through the noise, but it’s definitely a great way to access an entire community of individuals seeking knowledge and connection.
Above all though, the key to creating a network is building meaningful relationships and that’s done by consistently offering value to others. Actively do this and you will naturally attract the type of individuals you want in your network.