The Klarna Summer Small Business Accelerator Programme brought together experts to our small and medium-size business partners with clear, actionable advice on ways to improve their businesses and attract new customers.
As formal and informal events, trade shows and meetings return to normal, we asked WeWork – who know a thing or two about bringing people together in flexible workspaces – to join us on the accelerator programme to share some simple pointers to get you networking like a pro.
Business is all about relationships. Not just with customers but also suppliers, channel partners and affiliates. But with much of the past 18 months spent on video-calls, your face-to-face confidence may have taken a bit of a knock. Here’s how to solve that…
√ First do your research
Make sure any professional events you sign up for are right for you and that the audience and subject are aligned with your goals.
√ Be ready to network anywhere
Remember networking can happen anywhere, it’s not always pre-planned and organised. Wherever there’s an interaction, at the coffee shop, at gym or on the train, there’s an opportunity to connect.
√ Start conversations
Don’t overthink or try too hard to make an impression or a sale. Be genuine and aim to listen more than you speak. Focus on learning about the other person, that’s how connections are made.
√ Make it flow
Always be ready to engage with some basic questions. Ask the other person about their role, what they do, about their business, or where they’re based. Always have your own elevator pitch prepped in case they ask you first. If at an event, why not ask them about what they’ve seen so far? Be inquisitive and look for common ground.
√ Be confident and approachable
Try to maintain open body language and establish eye contact. If you close yourself off, it looks like you don’t want to be there. Put your phone away – smile and be ready to talk.
√ Swap details and follow-up
If you do share business cards jot down a few points on the back so you can remember the person and your conversation. Then you can follow-up on LinkedIn with a more personalised touch.
√ Look close to home
Take time to explore what other businesses are down your corridor, on the next floor, building or block. Spend time in community spaces, and on linked in and social media. The partner or customer you need may be right next door.
√ Make the most of easy wins
At a trade show? Go talk to people on the stands – that’s what they’re there for. Turn to those next to you in queues while waiting for food or coffee and introduce yourself. Grab a table and sit with others, they’d probably welcome the company.
Feeling confident? Get out there and start networking.
If not – check out the rest of our accelerator programme series for more expert advice from WeWork and others here.