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Networking: Tips & Strategies for Small Business Owners

Why Network?

Networking isn’t just about business cards; it’s about real connections. Think of it as your personal growth hack – opportunities, partnerships, and friendships that can transform your business.

Start with the right mindset to set yourself for success

  • Prep: Research the event and set clear goals.

  • Hype Yourself Up: Loose the negative thoughts and go with an open mind.

  • Small Wins: Aim to meet just a few new people each time (it normally organically grows to many more!).

  • Be Genuine: Authenticity is your secret weapon, people see straight through you when you’re not.

Setting Networking Goals

What Do You Want? Why are you going?

  • Clients: Find potential customers.

  • Collabs: Partner with like-minded businesses.

  • Learn: Gain and share insights.

  • Get Seen: Increase your brand's visibility.

  • Feel More Connected: Meet others who are doing what you’re doing.

Pre-Networking Prep

Do Your Homework:

  • Know the event format and key people you may want to connect with/learn from.

  • Stay updated on industry trends for easy conversation starters.

  • Have a few interesting questions ready to fall back on to reduce any awkward pauses in conversations.

Perfect Your Elevator Pitch & Feel Confident Introducing Your Business:

  • Intro: "Hey, I'm [Your Name], founder of [Your Biz]."

  • What You Do: "I help [audience] with [solution]."

  • Why You’re Different: "Our unique approach [benefit]."

Active Listening:

Look like you actually want to be there(!) Make eye contact and be aware of your body language. Paraphrase to show you’re really listening and ask open-ended questions to keep it going.

Remember What You’re Here For:

  • Don’t spend the whole time talking to one person, or stay stuck in a dead conversation. Politely excuse yourself. Such as, ‘would you excuse me, I’ve seen someone i’d like to introduce myself to’, ‘I better do some more mingling, let’s talk more over coffee next week’, ‘I’m just popping to... the loo, to get a drink, to grab a snack...or anything else relevant!’ - you’re here to network and find meaningful connections after all, and so is there person you’re speaking with.

  • Divide and conquer: If you attend events with a friend or business partner, split up. Remember what you’re there for - making new connections.

Other Tips:

  • Come prepared: have business cards/a live social media page/a phone, and a notebook to capture any information or insights you learn

  • Be open to connecting: If you look bored, busy or unapproachable, you won’t get much out of the opportunity

  • Wear something impactful, or that starts conversations: This helps people remember you or open a new conversation. If you’re a maker of something wearable, wear it!

  • There’s always a benefit: If you end up at an event that doesn’t feel relevant, you’re still guaranteed to learn something, give it a chance, or simply learn that it’s not the place for you, that’s progress too.

Next Steps

Stay Connected:

  • Send thank-you notes or DMs.

  • Add them on LinkedIn with a personal message.

  • Plan follow-ups and get a date in the diary for a call or coffee to deepen the relationship - this is often where the good stuff happens!

Get Out There:

  • Attend events regularly to build your confidence and meet more people.

  • Branch out and try different event topics and audiences. It doesn’t always have to be in your niche to be effective.

Worth Remembering:

Results don’t always present themselves then and there. It may be months or even years before you see the impact from making that new connection.

Final Thought:

Networking is a journey, and some of us find it more comfortable than others. Continually learn, adapt, and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Building lasting relationships will help your business thrive. 

You’ve got this! Happy networking!

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