Business events can be daunting

As a small business owner, have you ever returned from a business event wondering why you bothered going, since you never seem to get any new business?

You’re not alone. Business events can be daunting. It can be downright intimidating to enter a room filled with strangers, break into a crowd where you don’t know a soul, and make small talk with people you hardly know.

Studies show that over 40 percent of adults feel nervous about meeting new people. One survey showed that about 75 percent of people feel uncomfortable at business and social events. Perhaps this is because our parents always told us not to talk to strangers when we were young.

It’s important to gain skills in networking, however, because networking gives you opportunities to meet prospective clients. Once you’ve met, they are a warm contact instead of a cold call. Here are some tips to remember:

Business networking tips for small business owners
1. Networking isn’t hit and run - meeting someone, exchanging business cards, and dashing off to the next person. It’s about building sincere, honest relationships. It’s an ongoing process that connects you to people in all areas of your life.

2. You don’t have to be outgoing to feel self-assured. Learn how to introduce yourself, and have a few conversation topics ready. They will help you build sustained relationships that benefit you and the people you meet.

3. Your goal at a networking event is to make contacts - not to make sales. Networking is for gathering information. When you connect with someone who has business potential for you, arrange to meet at one of your offices, or for lunch.

4. Business events are golden opportunities for making new connections and building relationships. Don’t squander these opportunities by talking to a buddy. Take small steps out of your comfort zone.

5. Always follow up after you meet someone. Send them a card or an email. Call and invite them for lunch or coffee. Ask how you can help them. Nurture your network, and it will support you.

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