Determine your brand
How do you want to come across? What impression do you want to give customers and colleagues? This is both easier and more difficult than it sounds. Sometimes you figure out your brand easily and sometimes it comes with a bit more difficulty. Two people I worked with before opening my (virtual) doors were a business coach and a graphic artist. Once you know what image you want to project, the rest comes along naturally.
This can be changed As an example, Yahoo recently made a change to their logo. I’m not suggesting changing things willy-nilly, but don’t keep from starting because you can’t decide on your brand. Start with your basic idea, but remember, things can change so don’t be afraid to get started.
Determine your landing sites
Whether you want people to find you on a website or on a Facebook business page or a simple email address, before you go out to meet people, determine how they will find you when they want your services. As before, these can be changed. You should have some kind of interaction with your website on a regular basis to keep it fresh in the search engines (and you should be interacting with your clients or associates if you have a Facebook page). You should also have a profile on LinkedIn with some contacts in your network. (After you get started and meet more people, you can add to your network).
Determine your description
At almost all networking events, you will be expected to introduce yourself. Sometimes you’ll have 30 seconds, sometimes you’ll have a minute. I’ve even been to one group that allows you to have introductory time without a stopwatch (but they expect you to keep things reasonable). You don’t need to worry about the time limits if practice a 30-second and 60-second introduction in advance. If you visit the same groups regularly, you can talk about a different aspect of your business at each meeting to give people a feeling for the different services you offer.
Have your contact information handy
Order business cards. You can do this online or from a local vendor (and if you’re in the Naperville area, I have some recommendations).
I’ll confess though, i cheated on this the first time out. I had ordered some business cards but I had also decided to go to a networking event. The cards did not arrive in time, so I went to Office Depot or Staples and purchased some blank business cards. My cards arrived later that day.
The first few times you go out you might be stammering over your 30 second introduction. There might be times you forget your business cards. You may get nervous or flustered or forget some points you wanted to make. But the important thing is that you go out and you meet people. After that, it’s like the label on the shampoo bottle says:
MEET, GREET, REPEAT
We will continue this topic in the coming weeks, and talk about the meeting, the greeting, and the repeating.
- The Perfect (Elevator) Pitch (businessweek.com)
- Branding 101: Five Tips for Solopreneurs (entrepreneur.com)
- Building Your Business Through Networking (marywuva.com)