The restaurant industry seems to be a lot about “who you know.” You want to meet with up new managers and you want to get your ads out there to the food-loving consumers, but it isn’t always so easy. Most stores need a little push from someone well established before they can really nab those great food items and the customers that follow.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always easy. There is a lot of restaurant talent out there that simply doesn’t have those big-time connections. On the same note, there are a lot of businessmen and businesswomen ready to conquer the restaurant world but don’t know whom to call. This is where networking is crucial.

Those who have their contacts have less to do in the networking department, but that is really the only advantage they have. They may have an easier time getting to where they want to go, but anyone can network their way to the top. It’s about getting to know those who can help your business and showcasing what you can offer in the restaurant industry.

The biggest problem I see with networking, though, is the fact that people get nervous about the entire situation. Below are five steps to effective networking that should help make it a breeze for any restaurant dreamer:

5 Steps to Successful Restaurant Networking

Step #1: Social Networking

The first step to successful networking is networking over the Internet. This is a great place to start and coincidentally enough is also an easy way to get people used to networking. People generally feel more comfortable when they are talking with someone new over the Internet, so for most creating social networking accounts is the easy part. Getting involved with social media is the first step in seeing what’s out there. This will not only help you make connections with those in the industry, but it will help make it easy to keep up with the latest restaurant news. After all, if you are following important people in the restaurant world, they are bound to tweet something cuisine-important. At first, stick with starting a Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ account, and make sure that the accounts are for business (so look professional).

Step #2: Attend restaurant openings and seminars.

It’s important that you are always on the lookout for restaurant events. This is the perfect time to talk with those in the industry and get your name out there. It may seem impossible, but the more events you attend and the more people can see your face, the better.

Step #3: Create small talk at all restaurant events.

When you attend the seminars or shows, make sure you are talking with people and asking questions about the industry. You want to make sure you do not come off as annoying, so try and feel out the people in attendance. Find someone who seems outgoing and start there. Tell them a little bit about your aspirations and see where the conversation takes you! In most cases, people will love to talk to an aspiring restaurant owner.

Step #4: Follow-up after all meetings

After you leave an event or a meeting, it’s important to follow-up. Following-up can simply mean finding that person through a social network and letting them know you enjoyed chatting about restaurants. This will go a long way and it will remind people of your conversation. The best part is that once you’re connected via social networking, these people will be able to learn more about you.

Step #5: Don’t give up when creating a connection

Those who are new to the whole “networking” scenario sometimes give up after connecting with someone they met via social media. The truth is, this is generally not enough. It’s important that you feature your work on your accounts or tweet out great articles to help make a good impression. After a few weeks, it’s always nice to send a follow-up message with someone asking their advice or asking them if they know of any cool restaurants opening in town. This will help keep you in their heads and will hopefully lead to a meaningful relationship.

In the end I think that you will find networking is actually a lot of fun. It seems daunting at first, but when you really force yourself into what you think will be an uncomfortable situation, you often find that you got to talk to an incredibly interesting person.

Author's Bio: 

Amanda Dee is a professional blogger that writes on a variety of topics including restaurants in Houston. She writes for, a leading directory of the best restaurants.