By Leticia Sandoval, WEV Spanish Program Coordinator
This is the time of year when your calendar is filled with festive holiday events and mixers with friends and business colleagues. Take advantage of these gatherings to network with others and create lasting connections! Networking is an opportunity to get to know other entrepreneurs and professionals that can help you succeed in your business. Many people are uncomfortable with the networking process, so I’ve put together a list of helpful tips from my experience to help you be confident and successful:
- Always carry business cards with you to share with the people you meet. If you don’t bring your contact information, how will people reconnect with you? Business cards are a great way to wrap up a networking conversation.
- Bring a friend – especially if you’re shy about meeting new people. Don’t let fear get in the way of your success!
- Connect others. I always appreciate people who introduce me to business professionals, and in turn, I enjoy helping people find common business interests with others.
- Be a good listener. Instead of talking about yourself, take the time to get to know others and find out how you can support them. Show interest in who you’re talking to by asking follow up questions.
- Be sincere. When I am networking, I can tell the difference between those who are just trying to sell me their product or service, and those who are looking for mutual support. More than anything else, sincerity when networking is key to developing trust and good rapport with the people who you are getting to know.
- Make sure to follow up with the people you meet with an email or phone call. I typically send an “It was nice to meet you!” email within a week of the event with an invitation to reconnect in the future. Building a network does take hard work, so be diligent in following up with those that you met a week, month or even two months ago.
Keep in mind that you may not see immediate results from the networking events you attend. It takes approximately 6 months to a year of consistent networking to see the benefits of your communication and conversations with others. Don’t be discouraged—the hard work you put into networking will eventually pay off!
I am so thankful for the business professionals that have provided me with advice, referrals, and support. Similarly, I am grateful for the people I have gotten to know through networking and the ways that I have been able to assist them in their business ventures. So take every opportunity to start building connections now, and your business will be thankful that you did!