What’s the one thing most successful business people value above all else? It’s the relationships they have with people, be they clients, suppliers, colleagues or others in business. In short, it’s their network.
Why? Because every business decision is made by people - and people who are “well connected” find it easier to make things happen. They also have a strong personal reputation and business naturally gravitates towards them.
So if you want to grow your business, it’s important to keep building your personal network and nurturing it.
It’s not about amassing a huge pile of business cards or touting your business to all and sundry. You can afford to be discerning and build connections only with those people you like and have confidence in.
If you’re open to the opportunity, you’ll come across people who might become part of your network in all sorts of day to day situations. But networking events can provide one of the best opportunities to do this quickly.
Here are our top tips for getting the most out of attending networking events
1. Get in a positive, relaxed state of mind before you arrive
This will boost your confidence and people will feel more comfortable talking to you if you’re clearly in a good mood. You should be sociable and open to having fun, as well as doing business.
2. The best question to ask is ‘how can I help you’
Avoid being a networking mercenary - someone who’s just interested in selling what they do. Networking is all about helping others achieve their goals - and in return, they’ll help you achieve yours.
3. Ask open questions - and listen.
Too many people think they have to do all the talking! Taking a genuine interest in others and asking pertinent questions will show people that you care (about more than yourself!). You’ll also be amazed how much you can learn from others experiences in business.
4. Avoid direct sales
When talking about your business, don’t turn it into a pitch. Tell stories that explain how your product or service has helped people. Mention the types of customers you are ideally looking for introductions to. Share some of your business challenges.
5. Think beyond your own business - what connections can you help create?
This is something even seasoned networkers often miss! Take yourself out of the equation and consider who in your network might appreciate an introduction to someone you’ve just met. If you can make two people delighted by introducing them to each other, they’ll both return the favour one day.
6. Use your time wisely
Even if you meet your ideal prospect or strategic partner at a networking event, don’t hog all their time there and then. Instead, arrange to meet up for a coffee after the event. Finally remember to bring plenty of business cards!*
*free bonus tip (after all, it's always better to under-promise and over-deliver!).
Member since: 9th July 2012
I run thebestof Cambridge. My aim is to help make the best local businesses shine! Afterall, they are the best for a reason worth shouting about. Outside of work I enjoy playing football, swimming and...