Networking in Small Business

Disclaimer: I suffer from over thinking disorder. 

 

It’s a disorder I made up to legitimize my constant need to over think every situation. Last week I was invited by Aisleplanner.com to attend the launch of their new headquarters, a chance to meet fellow planners, meet the faces behind the brand, and network in a cocktail party setting. Sounds great, right? 

 

Cue in the overthinking...now! 

 

Should I go, should I not go? Will other planners be gracious and welcoming to me? Can I even network on the big boy field? Now I know many of you are at home right now, nodding your head, because you do the same thing. 

 

You’re presented with great opportunity and the only one standing in your way is, well, you. This is a common issue that many people don’t talk about, or even really pinpoint in themselves until it’s too late. When building a business, or even just building yourself as a professional, this can be a make or break situation. 

 

Flash forward. I went to the event, I had a great evening, and I learned a lot. A LOT. Here are a takeaways that I’m hoping will benefit you, and stick in my mind endlessly. 

 

1. You only take away what you give: smile, be approachable, strike up conversation and BE YOURSELF. These are all key components to make connections. See that person across the room drowning in themselves in a pamphlet? Go introduce yourself. Chances are they are feeling as out of place as you are. 

2. That being said; be confident! This can be difficult, trust me, I know! However, you were invited to this event for a reason…you ARE good enough. Remind yourself that as much as you need to. It’s your chance to shine! 

3. As a freelancer, you are your brand. Present it, represent it and know your worth. The worst thing you can do is go into a networking event without a set agenda of the message you want to get across. No, I’m not saying to go in and pitch like you’re on Shark Tank, but rather know what you want to portray when conversing with others. It’s important and will help you feel more confident while working the room. 

4. A business card. A BUSINESS CARD. It’s easy to forget the value of something solid like this in the midst of all the amazing digital marketing features available at our fingertips, but at the end of the day, they are important. Yet, they are only as important as you make them. Collect them, give them out, and follow up. Be pro-active! 

5. See the value in your networking. It doesn’t matter if you speak to one person or a dozen, each new connection is the gateway to something phenomenal. Don’t ever shun someone because you think they aren’t important or that your business will never cross paths. Learning should happen daily, as an adult and a business person, you should crave and appreciate the knowledge and ideas of others. They’ll do the same for you!