Business networking can be crucial in helping you find the right people to build and develop your company. But what is the best way to network and what should you think about when attending a networking event.
This blog offers some key tips to help you get the most out of any business networking event.
When done successfully, business networking can benefit you and your company in many ways. Amongst other things, it can:
To carry out good business networking, there are things you should do before, during and after a networking event.
First, it’s important to check travel routes to make sure you know how to get to an event and will arrive there on time. Also, do your research on the event, as you might be able to find out who else is attending. A networking session at a conference, for instance, could have speakers there who will be worth talking to.
You should brush up on your knowledge of your company and your business achievements – latest clients, projects and products. In doing this, you can be prepared for when people ask about your company, and be able to naturally bring examples of your products or services into a conversation.
And, remember to take enough business cards. It’s such a basic requirement, but it can be easy to either not take enough cards or forget them altogether. Giving out business cards is a key way to make sure the people you meet have your contact details. It’s a good way to collect cards too – when you give one you will probably get one in return.
Arrive early – You should aim to arrive at an event early. Networking isn’t like a party where it’s usually better to arrive fashionably late. If you arrive early you will often find a networking room has a much calmer and quieter atmosphere. This makes it easier to find and chat to people before they settle into a group.
Join in conversations – Rather than waiting to be approached, it’s better to walk up to a person or group of people. Ask if you can join them and ask what has brought them to the event. When doing this, it’s important not to take over, hijack the conversation and cut straight to a sales pitch. Instead, show your interest in the person, or people, and the topics being discussed.
Talk to as many people as possible – Once settled into a group, it’s easy to feel comfortable and stay with those people for the remainder of the event. Instead, politely break away and approach other groups in the room to make the most of every opportunity. It’s a good idea to give out your business card when leaving a good group discussion too, in case you don’t see those people again.
Be polite and listen – When you talk to people, simple things like smiling, making eye contact, and being friendly can make all the difference. Being polite can go a long way in helping you come across as warm and inviting, and it can make others feel comfortable around you. Also, make sure you listen to what others have to say to remember their names, get to know them, and know where to lead a conversation.
Ask open-ended questions – It’s important to not just ask people you meet questions, but ask them easy questions, which are open ended. This way they can’t be answered with a simple yes or no, which helps to open up good discussions.
The day after the event, while things are still fresh in your mind, log the contacts you have made. Try finding and connecting with those people on a business social networking site, like LinkedIn.
You should also follow up on any key contacts you’ve made by sending them an email, a day or two, after the event. This shows you’re interested in what they have to offer and available for business. When they respond, perhaps arrange a time to meet and share ideas.
Networking can be a crucial part of developing your business, from finding new contacts to building relationships with important customers and clients.
At FSB, we provide our members with networking events that can benefit their business. This includes:
If you’d like to find out more about our business networking events and how they can help you and your company, please visit the FSB Networking web page or get in touch with our dedicated team.
Network with other members and non members from across the UK through our National and Local networking framework