Networking, in the main, should be a pleasant, supportive and enterprising experience. An opportunity to meet with like-minded business people who are happy to learn about one another to make informed decisions on whether they will;
- buy from you in future
- refer your products or services to their contacts
- see someone they can collaborate with.
6 top tips to make networking work for you
Networking is more than turning up and putting on your best smile.
1. Go with business cards and be prepared to share them with people you speak with. If you've had a good conversation, ask the person if they would like to exchange cards and even connect online.
2. Follow up with people you spoke with. Thank them for their time. If there was anything particularly memorable about the chat, share it with them. Follows by email or personal messages via social media like LinkedIn are ideal.
3. Work the room. This sounds cliche, but get acquainted with people who you've not met before. Habitually floating around with familiar faces is not enough if your intention is to build visibility for you and/or your business.
4. Networking groups are often made up of small numbers. Putting yourself up as a guest speaker is a great way to build your confidence as a speaker, but also allows people to see you in a different light. Something else for people to remember you for!
5. Key top tip - be interested in others! It should not be about me, me, me! Ask open questions that encourage conversation. Be curious enough to want to find out more.
6. This is not the time for purposeful selling, a 'buy my stuff' talk. That will not go down well. Instead, work on a principle of 'know, like, and trust'. As people get to know you by the conversations you have with them, they will begin to like you, and both you and your business become memorable. Then they learn to trust in you as a person. This is the sweet spot, as they will have no bother in recommending you to their contacts. They will consider using you themselves when the time is right.
Not just for business owners
Finally, networking is not only for business owners. You should be taking advantage of networking opportunities if you are a job seeker looking for your next management position, or maybe you are considering a change of career or wanting to expand your business connections as part of your current role.
The skills and confidence you gain from regularly attending networking events, and the various skills you nurture, help you with meetings inside and outside the office.
Who will you meet at a networking event? Who do you want to meet? Could your future or next big break be at the event? No one knows, and, if you don't go, neither will you.
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