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Did you know that 85% of business professionals state that they build stronger, more meaningful relationships during in-person meetings and conferences? Face-to-face networking opportunities offer incredible advantages for small business owners who desire real, long-term growth in their company.

You see, from building new, profitable partnerships to bolstering personal development, meeting influencers in your industry, and exposing your brand to different people, networking opens doors that only in-person events can create.

Getting involved in more networking is a solid business strategy that will accelerate your goals and position you for a successful future!

Here are three networking tips you can leverage to experience better growth for your small business.

1. Attend Events Monthly

Meeting new people every month keeps you in front of fresh potential customers that could turn into loyal fans of your business. They have the advantage of experiencing your amazing brand live and in living color, giving you the chance to create a lasting impression. This monthly commitment will do wonders for your interpersonal skills, giving you that slight edge above your competitors.

Therefore, search sites that keep you informed about networking events near you. Influencers and enthusiasts in your niche tend to promote related events, so be sure to follow them on their social networks. Finally, Eventbrite is another source that can keep you plugged in to meetings and conferences in the area.

2. Build Relationships

Attempting to “work the room” by giving every attendee your business card does not work, nor does it separate you from everyone else who is doing the same. Your business card will land in the drawer where all the other stacks are, never to be looked at again. It’s key that your focus should be on relationship-building, not marketing your business.

When you do networking right, the opportunity will arise for you to talk about your business and what you do. And they will listen with open ears.

Here’s how to capture attention, build connections, and leave your event creating meaningful relationships that can last long after the meeting is over:

  • Your non-verbal language speaks first. Have an open, approachable demeanor by smiling, making eye contact, and an open torso with your arms uncrossed. Always offer to shake hands.
  • Make it a goal to genuinely connect with at least 2 people at each event. Create conversation by finding out who they are, why they enjoy doing what they do, what market they serve, their interests, and even their family. Get them talking and focus on building true rapport.
  • Have a follow-up system where you contact the people you meet using social media and/or email. Follow up with them immediately after the event (within 24-48 hours), then again every 1-2 months. This is not just a one-time hangout but an ongoing relationship that could lead to business growth.

3. Expand Your Content Vault

There’s one tactic that most entrepreneurs and small business owners fail to take advantage of when attending networking meetings and conferences. That’s building their content vault. Every live event offers the chance to create content for your blog, social media, and other digital marketing strategies to share fresh, valuable content with your audience.

Shooting videos and taking pictures, for example, is a great way to keep your followers connected with what you’re doing and where you’re going. Don’t miss out on capturing these priceless moments to grow your content.

The following are a few practical ways to leverage networking events for your online marketing:

  • Use live-streaming platforms like Snapchat, Facebook Live, and Instagram Stories to give your followers front-seat passes to your event.
  • Take pictures of the décor, speakers, and you with guests to share on your social media pages.
  • Blog about the event afterward, sharing key pointers on what you learned and how you will grow your business as a result from attending. Add pictures from the event to your post.
  • Shoot a short video with the host and/or guest speaker(s). Have a question ready so you can get right to it.

Implementing these tips will bolster your networking chops and create new opportunities for business growth. Commit to incorporating all three in your networking strategy.