Young entrepreneurs try especially hard to become the next big thing, often failing at the first hurdle. However, only those with true entrepreneurial spirit have the ability to brush themselves down again and face the pitfalls, and learn from their mistakes. If your ego can’t take this, then maybe have a look at what you want from a career.
Effective networking is not hard if you can get the fundamentals correct. Dress smart and be smart, remember that you are doing this to meet new people. Do not get this confused with a sales pitch; if you can successfully build up relationships with people then you will eventually be in a position where the sales will come in naturally from your charm and personality.
Forcing your business card down people’s necks is never a good move. In fact the truth of the matter is, the more you give out then the less credible you could look. If you are tactful with whom you give your cards to then they will become more valuable as you know someone wants to keep in touch. This is not to say don’t give out your business cards, far from it, as these are calling cards that will be a necessity to building up contacts but don’t just provide them to anyone and everyone. This brings me to my next point.
If you have contact details then use them, by not following up, you have effectively thrown away a potential relationship to someone who could be very useful to you in the future. Something that follows on from this question is why did you even go to the networking event in the first place? You must set time aside to make some form of communication with these people.
It is as much about them as it is about you. Relationships work two ways; you need to be able to have time to hear about them, their business and what they do as much as they need to put the time aside to listen to you. It’s also impossible to network if you are only willing to stay with the people that you came with, or already work with. Confidence may hold many people back here but, that said, being overconfident could come across as cocky and not do you any favours. If you can show that you are cool, calm and collected, then this will look good to employers and show that you can handle stressful situations really well.
I would always suggest being prepared for these events; don’t throw away easy contacts by making a fool of yourself or being overt or extravagant. Behaving in a professional manner will work wonders for you in the long run, hopefully opening up a world of opportunities and contacts who will be valuable assets for you in your future career.
This is a guest post by Matt Jones, who is currently working with Vistaprint who specialise in free business cards.