Published March 3, 2010

6 Entrepreneur Networking Tips

One of the most essential tools for entrepreneurs is their ability to network. Entrepreneur networking expands a business owner's number of contacts, which can lead to future sales, expert advice, and even business partnerships. But not everyone has the innate ability to network easily and effectively.

Small business networking is a skill, and it can be developed. However, it is up to you as an individual to take the initiative to expand your small business networking skills. Here are six entrepreneur networking tips that can give you a start in developing this skill.

  1. Take Your Business Card Everywhere

    Any and every conversation you have is an opportunity to share your business card. Whether you strike up a conversation with someone on public transportation or are in an entrepreneur networking event, give your business card and explain what it is that your small business does. You never know when you will get a call from one of these opportunities.

  2. Allow Yourself To Get Comfortable in a Networking Situation

    If you attend a networking event or are thrust into a situation where a plethora of people are talking and socializing, give yourself a little time to acclimate to the situation. Of course, this situation can be overwhelming to an introverted individual. The best strategy is to sip a beverage, listen to conversations for a while, and then jump in when you feel comfortable.

  3. Collect Business Cards With A Purpose

    You should also attempt to collect business cards from other individuals in an entrepreneur networking situation. However, simply getting a card is not the objective. Make a connection with the individual when you get the card. Know their business and what they do - and be sure they know your information as well.

  4. Ask Questions

    The best way to get comfortable in an entrepreneur networking situation is to ask questions. This establishes rapport with another individual and allows you to get clues to their interests and needs. Asking questions and giving them your focus allows you to relax and find the opportune time to bring up your business and share a card.

  5. Compact Your Spiel into a Concise 30-Second Clip

    A small business networking event is not the time to sell. However, you can describe what you do. Rather than taking valuable networking time giving lengthy descriptions of your business, shorten your spiel into a memorized 30-second clip. You should be able to describe your small business in one or two sentences.

  6. Be Genuine

    The most important thing you can do in any entrepreneur networking situation is be yourself. Never try to "become" a slick salesperson or act like someone you're not to try and impress another person. Your authentic self is what people will remember and will be your best selling point. Bring it forward.

These entrepreneur networking tips are certainly not inclusive. There are hundreds of helpful tips that can help you in a small business networking situation. Practice this skill and your network will grow.