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In a connected world, networking is vital for business owners. The way you meet others, build relationships and forge partnerships can mean the difference between success and failure in the business world.

As you get out there, and meet others, it’s important to remember some of the basics of networking. Whether you are attending FINCON (the best conference ever) or attending a local business networking event, it can help to keep a few things in mind. Here are 5 networking tips that business owners can use to improve their results:

1. Be Yourself

Many people can tell if you are being sincere. Business owners and others value a genuine interaction. Don’t be someone you’re not. It can be exhausting to keep up a facade, and eventually someone will see through you. Act like yourself, not some version of who you think others want you to be, and you will be more likely to make deals and form partnerships.

2. Know What You Have to Offer

Before attending a networking event, think about who you are, what you do, and what you have to offer. Be able to articulate these things. Ask yourself these questions, and be able to answer them:

  • What do you do?
  • Why do you do it?
  • For whom are you doing it?
  • How do you do it differently than others?

A clear understanding of yourself and what you do can help you sell yourself. Before attending a networking event, take stock of who you are, and consider what you can do to be a better version of yourself — and communicate that to others.

3. Listen to Others

Sure, you want to express yourself during networking events. However, make sure you aren’t always talking. You need to listen, too. Develop an interest in others, and ask them questions. Listen to what others tell you so that you can refer to the conversation later, and so that you can pick up on items that might indicate that a good partnership could be in the works — or that you might be able to help someone else.

4. Offer Yourself as a Resource

Listening is important, since it leads into offering yourself as a resource. Part of good networking is being able to help others. It’s give and take. While you definitely want to look for opportunities that can help you, it’s important to find ways to provide resources to others. Show that you are willing to share your time and your expertise, and more doors will open for you — and you’ll feel more fulfilled.

5. Follow Up in a Timely Manner

At a networking event, you are likely to meet people who are interested in partnerships, or who want to communicate with you further. When you meet someone at a networking event, it is wise to follow up in a timely manner. Send an email within two or three days of the networking event — even if it is just to say how much you enjoyed meeting the person and express an interest in further contact. If you promised to do something, it is very important to follow up quickly.