We all know the saying, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” While this can be argued indefinitely, it’s undeniable that connections do matter.

Whether you’re leading a small business or starting out on your own venture, the people you know can make a difference in your business growth. Here are a few tips about why networking is an important piece of your business development strategy having and how to do it with finesse.

Networking to Get More Customers

Paula Gregorowicz of www.thepaulagcompany.com and Yoon Cannon at Women’s Business Forum summer networking social.

Get Noticed

Even in big cities, it’s not uncommon to find yourself circulating among the same set of business people. When you attend a gathering, showing up with a genuine smile, high energy and sharp attire is the first step to getting you noticed.

You should also have up-to-date business cards on hand. If you chat with someone for a little while, be sure to follow up the next day with a quick email saying you enjoyed meeting them and recapping anything business-related you discussed. You don’t want to seem pushy, but you do want to solidify your name in their minds while your face is still fresh in their memory.

If you want to be noticed in your field, there’s perhaps no better type of event to seek out than those in your local business community. Are you interested in learning how to get better at marketing your business? Head out to all the marketing-related get-togethers in your area. You never know whom you’ll meet or (better yet) who will notice you first.

Are you a personal trainer? Look for business meetings centered around the health field. There may just be future referral partners waiting to get to know you. Check out The Business Journals’ calendar to find industry events in your area.

Get Advice

Another upside to networking is the opportunity to ask successful people your most burning questions. In a networking setting, most business leaders are happy to oblige and will think of your Q&A like nothing more than a casual chat. Think about the areas in which you need the most help.

Maybe you’re a budding software entrepreneur who isn’t sure when to take the plunge and commit to his new venture full-time. Look for tech-related events to gain access to some of the top technology leaders in your area.

If you’re in the software industry, most states have some sort of a tech council that hosts numerous classes and events, like this one in Arizona. There are also many organizations that host regular networking events for entrepreneurs from a wide cross section of industries. In the Philadelphia area you can visit http://efgp.org/

In addition to getting advice at networking events, becoming a member in your local networking organizations can also help drive more clicks back to your website as most organizations have member directories published on their website with backlinks to their members.

Get Training

Networking affairs aren’t all about you. Plenty of other savvy businesspeople carve time out of their busy schedules to share their own visions, passions, guidance and knowledge. Seminars are often a great place to go if you want to gain new skills or a deeper understanding of how to grow a successful business. The speakers at these sorts of events usually have exemplary business track records and compelling information to present.

If you want to do more networking, but you are limited on time you should consider networking online. LinkedIn is hands down, the best platform to network for business. When you know how to laser target your strategy on LinkedIn you can turn just a few minutes a day networking online to grow your list and grow your business. Get started with a free training on how to use LinkedIn for business.

Whether you’re networking in person or networking online, when it comes to growing your business we have all heard the saying, “it’s not what you know;
it’s who you know.”

If you’re hesitant about networking, now’s the time to overcome this limiting mindset. Just remember that each individual at these events is a person too, and most of them are also looking for friendly and savvy acquaintances to make. Make sure you’re well-groomed, speak confidently and have plenty of business cards on hand. With some practice, you’ll be getting noticed, receiving advice and soaking up business wisdom in no time.

QUESTION: What is your #1 biggest challenge when it comes to attracting new clients through networking?

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