1. Find the right event
There are a number of different
networking events out there to choose from, including seminars, speed
networking, breakfast meetings and business clubs. Events that happen
regularly, rather than one off events, are more likely to result in
ongoing business relationships. To find networking events near to you,
use a website like Findnetworkingevents.com or Google “business networking clubs [your town]”.
2. Plan for your networking event
nervous? Rest assured there will be plenty of others at any networking
event who feel exactly the same way. The best way to combat nerves is to
be thoroughly prepared.
Firstly, decide what you want to get out
of it. Do you want to make twenty new contacts or one real quality
contact? Are you looking for a new supplier, an investor, a mentor or
new customers? Your reasons for attending should define how you approach
the meeting and help you judge whether it has been a success.
Pro tip: Ask if you can get a list of attendees before the event to see if there are any organisations you want to speak to.
important to look professional, so check that you’ve you got enough
business cards and something to take notes with. Also remember to take a
bottle of water in case no refreshments are provided.
3. Create a 30-second pitch for your business
is precious at networking meetings, so you should be able to get across
the most important information about your business, including your
unique selling point, in a short space of time. Practice introducing
yourself with family and colleagues beforehand, until you feel confident
with your pitch.
4. Take a colleague
If you’re really
worried about going it alone you could always take a colleague with you,
but that doesn’t mean you should stick by each other’s sides for the
whole event. The benefit of taking a colleague is that you can cover
twice as much ground, but be careful not to speak to the same people.
At the event
5. Arrive early
to the venue early gives you the opportunity to compose yourself,
collect your name badge, and get your business cards and other
promotional materials in order. It also gives you the opportunity to
strike up conversations early. There is nothing worse than being the
last person to turn up to a room full of people already deep in
6. Be confident
Let’s face it; standing in a
room full of strangers is always going to be nerve-wracking. It can be
quite tempting to stand quietly in the corner and wait for someone to
come to you, but for the best results you will need to be proactive.
After all, the point of networking is to talk to other people about what
you do! Remember to make eye contact with people and, most importantly,
7. Take a genuine interest in others
Once in a
conversation, listen to others and show interest. Do not start looking
around the room at others trying to spot someone more interesting. This
will only get you a reputation of being rude and ignorant. Listen to
them exactly how you would like them to listen to you. By listening and
helping others, they are more likely to help you. Remember: ‘givers
8. Remember, networking is about building new contacts
spend lots of time at an event in the company of people you already
know. By all means, have a quick chat with them (to build the
relationship further), but spend the majority of your time getting to
know new contacts.
9. Do not over-sell at a networking event
is NOT selling. Networking is about building relationships, getting to
know, like and trust others. By all means, talk about your
products/services, as you are there to raise the profile of your
business, but sandwich ‘business talk’ between ‘small talk’.
10. Bring people standing alone into your conversation
will be grateful to you for doing so, as you have taken them away from
the uncomfortable position of standing on their own. Your kind act could
eventually lead you to some new business via the person you helped in
their moment of need.
When you arrive at an event, look out for
those standing on their own, as they will often be the most open to
meeting new people.
11. Do not discount people
assume that certain types of business people won’t know someone who may
be interested in your products or services. Who do they know? Do they
know your ‘perfect’ contact or lead?
12. Know when to move on
the thing that every networker dreads; being stuck with the same person
throughout the whole event. If there is potential for a working
relationship there, organise to meet at a later date and move on. If
there isn’t, be polite and exchange business cards, you never know when
they might become a useful contact in the future.
13. Take notes
events can be a case of information overload, so you should make short
notes at the first available opportunity after the meeting. Try not to
make notes whilst you’re talking to someone as you should be paying them
your undivided attention.
14. Take the opportunity to present
networking meetings offer the opportunity to present to the group. This
is an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and experience to a
room full of potential customers and referrers, but don’t use it as a
After the event
15. Make sure you follow up with your new contacts
up on new contacts as soon as possible with a short email or a quick
phone call. If you’ve said you’ll do something, make sure you do it. By
not doing so, you will undo all the good work you did at the event.
To summarise, networking is NOT
about selling but about building new relationships based on trust.
People buy from people that they like and trust, so it is important to
be yourself and be genuine at all times. You should think of networking
as a long term strategy for building profitable relationships, rather
than a quick win.