How to Build a Network to Grow Your Small Business: 4 Tips

Melinda Emerson

The more you network, the better you’ll become.

Your goal at any networking event should be to meet only 5 people. Networking is like riding a bike, the more you do it, the better you will become — just force yourself to do it.

1. Refine the elevator pitch. Your elevator pitch needs to be tight and invite people to ask you a question. Try starting by stating what you do, who your target customer is and then finish with the results you deliver. Always close with a question, for example I would say: “Do you know anyone who wants to start a small business?”

2. Networking tips for introverts. Set goals for your networking. Force yourself to attend three networking events a month. Research the attendee list and see if you can get someone to make key introductions. Figure out something you can complement people on to spark a conversation. Go for the tie, watch or jewelry.

3. Smart networking strategies. Get to the event early. Being late to a networking event means you could miss your targets. Have plenty of business cards, but only give one if you are asked for one or if someone gives you one. If there’s an opportunity to introduce yourself to the entire group at the event, volunteer quickly and try to go first.

4. Networking mistakes you commonly that should always be avoided. Be willing to talk with anyone. Even if they can’t help, they can give a referral. Don’t do drive-by networking. Have a conversation before you give a business card. Don’t linger too long. Be present. Nothing is worse than talking to someone who is actively looking over someone’s shoulder for someone else to network with.

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