Networking isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. However, no matter what size of business you own, and regardless of whether you’re an employee or your own boss, networking is something you need to do, if you want your business to grow.
How we ‘should’ network is something that holds many entrepreneurs back. It’s a common misconception that we need to network in a certain way, to follow the ‘norm’ and act like everyone else.
But we’re all different. We all have different personalities and talents – so it’s understandable that we also have different networking preferences too.
Play to your strengths
We’re not all outgoing and confident. Some entrepreneurs prefer to be in a crowd, playing to an audience is fun for them. Others may find small talk irritating and a complete waste of time.
Networking gives you an ideal opportunity to try out new pitches, build relationships with new contacts and look to see how you can help others in your networking group. You may have a flair with words and love asking and receiving advice. In this instance, you’ll want an event that gives you an opportunity to get in front of lots of people – both on a one-to-one basis and as a captive audience. You thrive in a formal and informal setting, so are happy to attend any networking event.
Alternatively, you may thrive in more intimate or informal setting, as you struggle to ask for help or share advice. You’re happiest with a couple of people, where you regularly meet in a local coffee shop and help each other implement plans and goals.
Know when you’re at your most energetic
But playing to your strengths isn’t just about how you feel about networking or how much you’re confident about your products. Networking to your strengths also includes knowing your working patterns and your body clock too.
Well, networking events are held throughout the day. For a busy entrepreneur, an early morning event is a perfect way to start the day. Others may prefer an evening event, something they can attend after their partner is home and the kids have gone to bed. For others, the idea of an early morning start is enough to send them back to bed!
The important thing to remember is you need to play to your strengths – and it’s something you can totally do if you pick the right type of networking event.
Pick networking events that suit your personality
Large, fast-moving events aren’t for everyone. Extroverted entrepreneurs love having a captive audience, even if it’s just for a 2-minute elevator pitch. The idea of mingling with a large number of different contacts is just what they love. They want to get maximum exposure at each networking event.
Introverts, on the other hand, often want a more informal networking event. They want to feel relaxed and comfortable. Introverted entrepreneurs don’t want to be the centre-of-attention. The idea of mingling with lots of people, forced small talk and making contact with lots of contacts, is their idea of hell.
No matter what type of networking event you choose, the best outcome will be achieved, if you just be you. If you put on an act or network in a way you feel you ‘should’, you’ll not only disappoint yourself, you’ll not benefit from your networking efforts either.
It’s crucial, therefore, that you play to your strengths and network in a way that feels comfortable for you – if you want to get the most out of your networking events.
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