Networking is an effective business tool to help you find new clients and form connections with like-minded individuals that can help you grow and develop –– both professionally and individually. With the rise of virtual networking, you also get opportunities to meet business owners beyond your local community. 

Because of how effective networking is, it’s crucial to know how to network in business to achieve your desired results. This guide will share tips to help you along the way:

  • Map out your current network
  • Plan ahead
  • Get out of your comfort zone
  • Perfect your elevator pitch
  • Follow up
  • Be willing to share 

Map out your current network

The first step in learning how to network effectively in business is to create a list of people you know who either need your services or know someone who does. Make a list of previous managers, customers, suppliers, associates, and even friends or family. 

Next, rank these people in terms of how valuable you think they are for your business and how comfortable you feel approaching them. You can use a spreadsheet to list and rank your network contacts and assign each person or level its own colour. Alternatively, you can create a business mind map to create a picture of your current network. 

Once you complete your spreadsheet or mind-map, begin contacting each contact on your list, starting with the people you feel most comfortable getting in touch with. Doing this helps you get into the swing of networking so you feel more confident when you reach out to more high-value contacts.

Plan ahead

Next, figure out what you hope to achieve with your networking endeavours. Do you want to make new connections or simply learn about the latest developments in your field? Without a clear agenda, it’s more difficult to achieve the results you want. So take the time to determine your goals for the experience before you attend any meetings or events. 

You also want to work out what you want to achieve from any conversations you have at different events. If you know your end goal, you might feel more confident when approaching someone. It also helps you come up with an appropriate way to introduce yourself. 

Get out of your comfort zone

While it’s natural to gravitate towards people you already know, networking is about building new relationships with people outside your circle. So if you’re at an event where you already know people, scan the room for people you have yet to meet and find a moment to introduce yourself. 

A great way to overcome the initial awkwardness and make a good first impression is to open with a compliment. For example, you could tell the person sitting next to you at a seminar that you like their shoes or watch. If someone gave a speech, compliment them on the content. 

Asking a question can have the same effect since it’s an easy way to get a conversation going. For example, what they think of a recent development in your industry. Make sure you ask an open question instead of something that only requires a “yes” or “no” answer. 

Perfect your elevator pitch

When figuring out how to network effectively in business, it’s important to remember that you’ll probably only get a few minutes to speak to each person. That’s why it’s a good idea to write and rehearse your elevator pitch beforehand. An elevator pitch is a short speech that gives an overview of your business, your experience, and how you can help a potential client or customer.

Aim to keep your pitch short, ideally 20-30 seconds. Learn more about how to write an elevator pitch that wins clients

Follow up

What happens at the events, whether online or in person, is only half the battle. Effective networking is equally about what you do after to maintain your new connections. So be proactive in following up and staying in touch. You can use social media (especially LinkedIn) to connect with people you’ve met. 

Arranging separate catch-ups with people after the event also helps you avoid getting into lengthy conversations that may prevent you from meeting other people. Instead, swap business cards with your new contact and get in touch after to continue the conversation. 

Be willing to share 

One of the golden rules of networking is that it’s a give and take. Many people you meet are happy to share some ideas and even contacts with you, but you must be willing to reciprocate. If you don’t offer your help and advice in return, people will likely be less willing to help. 

You can show your willingness to help by introducing people in your network who share interests or need each others’ services. Another way to give back to your connections is by recommending systems you use that they might find useful. For example, if you connect with another solo business owner, you could suggest using Countingup to manage their finances easier.

The more you present yourself as a helpful person with interesting and useful connections, the more people will want to connect with you. 

So look for opportunities to help your contacts prosper in their careers, and they’ll do the same for you. If not, then they weren’t a very good connection, to begin with. 

Free up time for networking with Countingup

Learning how to network effectively in business requires you to dedicate time and energy to attending events and building your confidence by actually speaking to people. If you have financial tasks taking up tons of time, you have less to dedicate to networking. 

Luckily, a system like Countingup can help you save time on bookkeeping so you can focus on growing your network. Countingup is a unique two-in-one business current account and accounting software that enables you to manage your financial data for one simple app.  

Start your three-month free trial today. 
Find out more here.