Ultimate Networking Tips for Enterpreneurs
Helpful networking tips for startups, job seekers, entrepreneurs and small businesses from Sandbox Suites, the coworking space for everyone.
1. Take it online
When you meet someone and receive a business card, unless you are building an impressive business card collection, take it online. Find the person on LinkedIn; if they don’t have LinkedIn, send them an invite! Find them on Twitter and respond to one of their tweets- even if it’s personal and not professional. Follow them on Instagram, or Pinterest. Personally, I’d draw the line at Facebook friend request until after you’ve logged a few real time hours. (However, if they have a company Facebook page, DO like that.)
Protip: if you are lurking a few years deep on their Instagram, try not to like their photos. There’s a thin line between ‘cool new connection from networking event!’ and ‘I think this person is online stalking me.’ Invite them to another similar meetup or event instead where you can take new pictures!
2. Make Authentic Connections
Unless you are the host or an extreme extrovert with the attention span of a toddler (and if you are, you do you) DO NOT work the room. If you are having a great conversation with someone who matches or complements both your personality and your professional interests, stick with it. If you start chatting and realize that this person is your mortal enemy, or simply the most annoying person you’ve ever had the displeasure of making small talk with, then politely excuse yourself and move on. If you look around and realize you’ve only made one solid connection, that’s okay! With a really authentic connection, you’ll feel much more comfortable following up and connecting with them in the future.
3. Follow Up
When you tell a potential colleague, ‘let’s get coffee!’ follow up and actually invite them to coffee. Offer to make an intro email? Do it! If you find a meetup, networking event or class similar to the one where you met, ping that person and ask if they’d like to meet you there. At minimum, refer to step 1 and connect online after your real life connection. The new contact will remain current and viable.
4. Host Your Own Event
Are you an expert in a field? Strangely good at knitting? Always wanted to make your own zine? Interested in starting a podcast or teaching people the basics of digital photography? Search for meetups or events in that category and in your area through networking websites like meetup.com. If you find an existing event, offer to host, teach, volunteer or just go!
No upcoming events? Be proactive and message the event organizer and submit your idea, or ask to host the next event. If you are a member of a coworking space, many times meeting rooms and common areas are available on evenings and weekends at no cost to members. Coworking spaces are also a great way to learn about events and classes!
5. Quality Over Quantity
I cannot emphasize this point enough: one authentic connection can be infinitely more valuable than a stack of random business cards. If you click with someone right away, don’t feel guilty cultivating that conversation all night. It will be much more rewarding in the long run.
And keep in mind that you may not hit a networking home run at every event you attend. Sometimes you’ll get nothing more than a drink and a good meal. But meeting a new investor, a valuable business resource or your new boss only needs to happen once!
If you’re having a great chat, but don’t want to seem too exclusive, introduce yourself and your new found connection to someone nearby. Make sure to connect online and follow up with your new colleagues and friends.
Put your newfound networking skills to work at our Grand Opening Party for our brand new Palo Alto Sandbox!
Good luck out there! Networking can be rewarding and fun.