No matter how experienced and educated you are, you will do better when you are in situations where you already have a foot in the door.

One of the best ways for you to create contacts and expand your connections is to network. I love being social so I’m constantly looking for new ways to network.

I regularly attend networking activities, go to dinners and join networking groups. The obvious benefit of networking is meeting potential clients or generating referrals. Word-of-mouth is a fabulous thing. The more events you go to, more people will know your name, and therefore, know your business.

Some of my top tips for successful networking are:

  • Know your audience. Make sure you do your homework.
  • Fine tune your elevator pitch. This is the what you say to someone when they ask you what you do. Because you have researched the audience attending the event, you will be able to tweak this to suit their needs. This is one of the most important things you can do leading up to an event.
  • SMILE! Be approachable and friendly. Go and introduce yourself. There is no point going to an event if you are going to sit in a corner and wait for people to come to you.
  • Remember, everyone in the room is relevant. Get to know people. You never know what may come of it.
  • Believe in yourself! You can do this, and you do have something valuable to offer people.

One other thing: remember your business cards! You would be surprised how many people forget them. Ensure you follow up with anyone you have had a conversation with, this is a definite non-negotiable!

Most importantly, relax and have fun and, if you’re lucky, you can also gain valuable friendships with like-minded and inspiring business owners.

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