You’re a small business or an entrepreneur. And you know how important it is for you to network.
Networking not only helps you build connections but also builds your brand image.
And you want to enhance your networking strategy. You want as many relevant people as possible to connect with you.
But the question is—How?
You’re probably already attending conferences and seminars, doing promotions, and reaching out to the relevant audience.
Now you just need to make some improvements to these existing practices and resources.
4 Steps to More Effective Business Networking
Here are four ways to improve on your current business networking efforts.
1. Don’t talk to merely break the ice
When you attend a conference, seminar, or meet-up, you meet many people. And you try to initiate a conversation.
But remember that your end-goal should not be small talk.
Yes, you will start with some questions to break the ice. But you must also ask questions that reveal something about them.
For example—When did you know you wanted to start this business? How did you come up with the idea? Or how did your earlier career choices lead you here?
Such questions help you know your audience well. And when the conversation turns to you, try to make it memorable. How?
Don’t sound like everyone else. Tell them something that makes you different. It could be something as simple as your passion for collecting stamps. Or your expertise in dancing.
The main idea here is to share a memorable fact that helps them remember you easily and even reveals your personality.
Once you leave a mark on them, their likelihood of remembering you and contacting you will increase.
2. Make your business cards interesting
Once you’ve had a good conversation, it’s time to give away your business cards to help people get in touch with you.
But here’s a thing. Say you’ve handed out your business cards. Others have too.
Once recipients get back home and take out all the cards received at the event, how will yours stand out from the crowd?
Here are three ways to ensure it:
a. Add a unique design
A unique design will certainly grab the recipient’s attention. For example—a business card designed as a bookmark. It will not only make your design look different but also multi-functional.
Each time the recipient uses it, it will remind him who you are and what you do.
b. Add an element of engagement
All business cards usually provide only contact information. To make yours different, add an element of engagement to it. How?
Maybe by adding a tricky question related to your industry. It will make them think about the answer. And spend a little more time with your card.
You can even add an instruction (a call-to-action statement) like—Think you got the answer? Let us know!
Doing this will nudge them a little to contact you.
c. Make it actionable
What’s the purpose of a business card? To help people save you as a contact on their phones, right?
They usually have to open their phone’s contacts app, tediously type your details, and finally hit save.
Why not help them do it easily?
You can add a QR Code to your visiting card. As the user scans it, she’ll see your contact details and a button to save you as a contact.
She can then simply hit the Save button. That simple.
It will even help you track how many people have scanned your QR Code. Or to put it in marketing terms—gauge your conversion rate.
3. Leverage print media
Do you use print media such as product packaging, carry bags, diaries, goodies, or magazines? Make sure you optimize them to help people connect with you online.
For example—say you’re an apparel brand. And you want your customers to follow you on social media.
So, you print your social media handles on carry bags. Or you print a QR Code that takes them to your social media profile.
Just remember to add a CTA here such as—Follow us online.
You can also make it even more compelling by offering an incentive—Follow us online and get 20% off on your next purchase.
Incentives increase the likelihood of your audience taking the desired action.
Similarly, you can also add your logo, website address, or social media handles on other print media.
It will not only help you get people to connect with you but also make them receptive to your brand.
4. Optimize your social media strategy
You’re probably already present on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Make sure you optimize these channels to attract relevant audiences to your profile. How?
First, make sure you’re active on these sites and regularly post content for your audience to engage with.
Second, attract only relevant traffic. For example—research your industry specific keywords inside LinkedIn. Or use Twitter advanced search to find keywords that your target audience uses. Or tune into Facebook audience insights to find a relevant audience.
It ensures that you attract a good chunk of people who are really interested in your services.
Third, monitor the analytics closely. See which posts have done well in the past. And by that, we mean which ones attracted more likes, shares, and comments. Replicate such posts.
And avoid the ones that didn’t perform well.
Speak with intention. Put your business cards to work. Maximize your use of print media and optimize your current social media strategy. These are four ways businesses and entrepreneurs can use their existing resources to build a strong professional network.
Networking, when done the right way, not only helps you strengthen business connections but also develops long-lasting relationships.
Yashika Tangri is a marketing enthusiast who works with Scanova. She loves writing 'how to' articles to help marketers make their campaigns responsive and engaging for the audience. When not writing, she loves reading mythology and practicing guitar.