When you mention you are going networking there are always some people who think you are off on a jolly and it is a just an excuse to eat cake. Now don’t get me wrong, I love eating cake but I also love doing business and therefore if I am going networking it is for a very definite purpose.
So why are YOU going networking?
Everything in business needs a strategy, a plan and networking is no exception.
So why you are going networking?
- Who you may want to meet?
- What are your objectives?
- How many contacts do you want/need?
- Do you Follow up?
- If you do not have a strategy then networking becomes NOT Working.
Networking success will be different for each of us, depending on what our objectives are.
My top tips essential for networking to be successful for my business are as follows:
1. PLAN AHEAD
Why are you going?
What outcomes do you want?
- To find new clients?
- Build existing relationships?
- To create your brand awareness, promote yourself
- To meet suppliers
- To meet people for your team/potential employees
- To undertake market research
- To build a social circle of likeminded people
- Gain understanding of the business community and
- Gain business support from other local businesses
- Learn new skills
If you have the opportunity to see the list of attendees beforehand then link with people before or research their business before you attend.
Do your homework!
The fear we feel of networking is often a result of feeling out of control. To feel more in control, go in prepared. Know what you want to achieve and who you want to see.
If there are speakers at the event, connect with them too. It saves getting tongue tied if you meet them after they have presented at the event.
2. FIRST IMPRESSIONS COUNT
In 7 seconds we decide:
- if we like someone,
- if we trust them,
- if we want to do business with them
- we make judgements on their background, and
if they are like us.
If you are not representing yourself in the best, most appropriate way for you and your business you are doing yourself a huge injustice.
You are your shop front.
Make sure all your skills talents and expertise are on show the minute you walk into the room.
We know ‘you should never judge a book by its cover but this response is a natural instinct and something we have little control over.
It is because of this human instinct that in business and especially for networking, first impressions count.
You only get one chance to make a first impression. So make sure you get in right!
3. BE REAL BE YOU
Knowing your true self and your true values means that you will always be consistent and genuine and will therefore represent yourself in that way.
Do you know How do you want to be regarded?
Do you know How you are currently regarded?
Have you asked?
The great things about networking is that once you know like and trust people, referrals will happen.
If someone is talking to another business who mentions they need a service and your contact refers to you, what do you want him/her to say about you?
This is your personal brand, what you are known for.
Own it and manage it!
Look YOUR best every day. You never know who you may meet.
Really listen, if you have taken the trouble to connect with someone in the room hear what they say and try not to be distracted.
Try not to worry about what you will say next or you will not be able to fully take in what they are saying to you.
Listen to them and ask them questions so you start to really understand who they are and how you can help them.
5. BE PREPARED TO PITCH/PRESENT
You never know who you may meet in the room and whilst you may not have gone with the intention of pitching your business, there may be an ideal investor or key influencer that wants to know more about your business.
So be prepared to tell them succinctly what you do and why and
how you do it that makes you special.
You know your business and what is important to you, so practice sharing that passion in a concise effective way.
6. MEET AT LEAST ONE NEW PERSON
Even if you have gone along with a friend and then meet lots of people you have already connected with and are keen to nurture those relationships, think back to YOUR reason for attending and if that includes meeting new people then make sure you do.
Speak to the person alone at the buffet table or join an existing conversation if you are not sure how to start one.
7. HAVE FUN
Enjoy yourself, after all aren’t you building a business that you love?
Don’t take yourself or the event too seriously.
8. FOLLOW UP
Every time after a networking event spend some time to follow up with an e-mail or a phone call or a social media to remind the people you’ve met of your meeting.
Always, always follow up, it is the start of building those relationships and building your network
Know what you want from YOUR networking and you will always network effectively.