Business Networking is an effective business tool for all smaller businesses, providing a platform to meet like-minded individuals and build connections for growth and development, both professionally and individually. There are a variety of networking groups and events out there to choose from at various price points and all offering different opportunities. Below are some ‘Top Tips’ to ensure that you get the best out of your investment.
Think about what you want to achieve:
If you are new to networking, visit as many events as possible, talk to the regulars and find out if the group will fit in with your strategy before making a regular commitment.
It’s only natural to gravitate towards people that you already know, if you find yourself in this situation, scan the room for people you have yet to meet, facilitate the opportunity for them to join in the conversation. Look out for new people, remember how you first felt when you turned up to somewhere new, a friendly introduction will be much appreciated.
Networking is a slow burn, it takes a while to build up trust within a group. Attend regularly, help others and have an effective follow up. Networking is about building up your network and relationships. You
might not immediately get business from an event but one person you speak to might open a number of doors.
Take an interest in others and find out what they want to achieve from the event/meeting
It’s not what happens at the event, it is what you do after that is most important.
Be pro-active in follow ups, use social media to connect with people you have met and ensure that you follow up anything that you have said you were going to do in a timely fashion.
Have separate 121’s with key individuals outside of the networking sessions, this will also help to avoid getting into any lengthy conversations during the event that may prevent you from meeting other people.
Where possible, always provide the person you are referring to with a way of getting in touch directly with your contact, maybe cc them into an email, check back on progress and see if it was of value.
If you were introduced or recommended by someone, keep the person who made the introduction up to date with the progress/outcome. If it was successful, a positive action would be to thank them publicly at the next meeting, as this not only demonstrates to others that the network is working, it can help to build both your and the referrer’s credibility within the group. If an introduction wasn’t relevant, provide feedback as to the reasons why and how they can identify more positive ones in the future for you.
Never just push your business card or leaflets into people’s hands, networking should be about building relationships, trust and credibility. You may have a service or offering that might be relevant to the attendees but a hard sell in this type of environment is often deemed crass, and doesn’t give out a good first impression. Networking is about helping others; “sell through the room not to the room” and by default may result in some direct sales.
Looking and feeling good is vital for your networking confidence. This doesn’t mean you have to wear a suit, just appropriate, clean attire for your line of business. A professionally produced name badge worn just below your right hand shoulder will help others to approach you easily and avoid any awkwardness in having to recall your name which will also help with introductions.
Download a PDF copy of this guide here
Network with other members and non members from across the UK through our National and Local networking framework