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Build Business Relationships with Small Business Networking

Small business networking is a great way to meet other business owners and people who make the buying decisions for their companies. Follow our small business networking tips to identify the best networking opportunities and to know what to do — and not to.

Identifying Networking Opportunities

Before you learn how to network for business, you need to identify the networking groups and events in your area. If you belong to an industry-specific organization, like a bar association or medical society, ask for a schedule of networking events. Your membership may give you access to free or low-cost mixers, seminars, workshops, luncheons and more. Contact your local chamber of commerce for information about general networking events, and don’t forget the Internet is a good source of information, too. Use LinkedIn.com, Meetup.com and other online networking sites to find networking groups that appeal to you.

Prepare to Network

Just as you prepare to give a business presentation, you also need to prepare before you network. You’ll need a way to give out your contact information during the event, so order business cards that include your name, job title, company name and contact information. If you can, get lists of speakers, special guests and attendees so you can identify your best networking prospects. Prepare a brief elevator pitch to explain what you do and how your products or services can benefit the people you meet. Your small business networking can lead to valuable relationships, and your planning will help you get the most out of events.

Small Business Networking Tips

When attending a networking event, avoid over-the-top clothing, accessories and cosmetics, especially if you work in a conservative field. If you receive a name badge at the event, display it prominently so other people can easily see it. When you speak to new contacts, maintain eye contact. Ask thoughtful questions and take notes. Be sure to follow up with new contacts, especially if you say you are going to.

Remember that networking events are not about selling your products or services — it is about building relationships. Once you do that, you’ll have a foundation for receiving and giving businesses help.

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