Networking is important in business. No matter how much money you spend on marketing yourself, a good deal of your business will come from people you know and their network. It’s basic mathematics; meeting more people means more potential requests for your services or referrals of for work.
Networking can be daunting because you’re essentially walking into a room full of people you don’t know at all. Not only that, they want to get to know you, and that can be scary, especially if you’re more of an introvert. In this article, we’ll give you some great tips to make sure you’re getting the most out of your networking…
1. Go to as many networking events as you can
Type the word ‘networking’ and your location into Google and the search engine will display dozens of networking events in your area. Lots of them will be free. As previously mentioned, the more events you can attend the better the chance you have of picking up new clients. Networking is about making people aware that you’re there and that you have a service they might be interested in. The more you can do that the better off you’ll be.
2. Meet the organiser
The organiser is likely to be the only person who has a full overview of who everyone is, including what business they are in. Seek them out and introduce yourself. Tell them who you are and why you’re there. If the rapport is right then come right out and ask, “Who are the best people here for me to speak to?”
The organiser wants the event to be a success, so they should have no problem introducing you to networkers who might be looking for someone just like you.
3. Be respectful
It’s easy to go to a networking event and forget that it isn’t all about you. Everyone you meet at your event is likely to be there for the same purpose; to meet new clients directly, or to meet people who can introduce them to more clients. You’ll find the odd person who is there just to build a support network or because they want brand awareness in their local area, but for most companies, the number one goal is to grow.
Don’t forget to let other people talk to you about what it is they do. Ask questions and listen properly to the answers. Forge genuine conversations with people. Resist the urge to spout loads of information about yourself at someone, pass them your business card and then walk away. That’s not networking; it’s spontaneous pitching.
4. Be your passionate self
There is no need to practice your sales pitch in the bathroom mirror. When you attend a networking event, you should be yourself while winning people over with your passion and enthusiasm for what you do. Be honest about who you are.
Remember that people should want to do business with you based on knowing who you are and what you stand for, not because they met the version of you who only exists when you’re networking.
5. Only follow up on valuable leads
Don’t work the room and give your business card to anyone and everyone or you might as well throw them in the bin. Similarly, don’t ask for business cards of people you have no interest in keeping in touch with just because you want to be polite. Instead ask for business cards from people you have had real, worthwhile conversations with during the event and give them your card, too. After a couple of days, drop them an email to let them know that it was lovely to meet them and that you’re interested in keeping in touch. Maybe invite them to a follow-up meeting or a coffee.
Don’t be afraid to walk away from a networking event feeling as though you didn’t meet anyone worth keeping in touch with at all. Sometimes this happens, and it’s all part of the process. You’ll meet someone next time. One valuable exchange is worth more of your effort than five pointless ones that waste your time.