Business networking is one of the most effective ways of generating new business, but it can seem daunting for the less extrovert doing it for the first time. However, even the most shrinking violet will gain confidence and effectiveness with practice.
There are many different types of networking event and different times of day in which they happen. Most will let you try them out once or twice for a small fee. Once you have attended a few, chose the ones where you are most comfortable and have had the most success.
To help you make more of the opportunities present at your next business event, here are my top 10 tips for networking effectively.
- Draft an ‘elevator pitch’ – a short (approx. 30 seconds) overview of your business, that you can trot out when asked “what do you do?”. It is best to have a few variations so that you do not say exactly the same thing every time, and so start to sound like a recorded message.
- Take a plentiful supply of business cards, and a pen. You should also have some paper or a notebook to take notes.
- At the meeting, remember everyone is there to network, so people generally do not mind you butting in, as long as you are not too pushy. If they seem very intense, try another group.
- Remember also that at most networking meetings everyone is there to sell, very few to buy, so do not expect to come away with orders every time.
- The people there will be happy to hear about you, but will also want the opportunity to have their own say as well. Do not try to monopolise the conversation.
- Try to make what you say original and interesting. Try also to smile and to be cheerful and enthusiastic about what you do. People respond positively to someone who is themselves positive.
- Listen carefully to what the others tell you. People appreciate a good listener.
- You should aim to meet as many people as reasonably possible. The objective in each case is to establish whether or not there is synergy between you – whether you think some form of business relationship could be worthwhile. You are simply trying to answer this question. Once it is answered either way, you should move on as quickly as is polite and gracious. If the answer is ‘yes’ you should make sure you have the other person’s contact details so that you can get in touch in order to discuss in more detail what you can do for each other.
- Unless your memory is very good it is advisable to sit down in a quiet corner every 30 minutes or so and make a brief note to remind yourself of each person you have met.
- Finally, when you are back in your office after the session you should send an email to everyone you met who might possibly be of interest, to remind them of who you are. You should use this to set out your business in more detail than you were able to at the meeting.
For more thoughts on how to grow your business contact Richard Wickes on Richard.firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on 020 7731 0853.