Have you been disappointed when you’ve been out to networking events recently because they don’t seem to do much for your business? Maybe you made a special effort to attend an evening event after a busy day in your business and then wondered why you bothered?
If so, it may be that you’re not really clear on what to expect from a networking event or how to use them to help your business. Let’s look at the first part of this.
What did you expect from your networking event?
Did you perhaps expect that you would be submerged with requests for your products or quotes for your services from all the other people in the room? Did you hope to get at least a couple of concrete sales enquiries? This is a common mistake we can all make when we go to networking events. You all know the phrase, people buy from people they like. Well networking is all about making connections with people. It is making connections that can really stimulate your business. By making connections we can generate sales enquiries but we can also stimulate ideas, find suppliers, see opportunities, get involved in our local community and share some business problems with like minded people. Networking can give you so much more than just sales leads and can help your business in so many different ways.
A business social event instead of a networking event?
What if we think of these events as business social events instead of networking events? Networking suggests an element of fishing and working very hard. Fishing for enquiries is hard work and probably won’t do much for your business. But a business social event we would approach quite differently. Immediately we see a more relaxing evening ahead of us.
How many times has a business opportunity arisen for you in a social setting, maybe at the school gate, at the golf club or down the pub? You wouldn’t go round the school gate shaking everyone’s hand and handing out your business card willy nilly. Likewise during a round of golf you wouldn’t accost every golfer on the green with your business card. Now you’ll say to me, yes but Diana surely at a networking event everyone understands that we’re there to do business?
Indeed we are there for business, but who do you think you’ll remember, the person who comes up and tells you they’ve been fitting double glazed windows for 25 years, or the woman you discovered was in the same year as your sister at school. That piece of information makes a connection between the two of you. It says you have something in common, some point of reference with this person. We need a point of reference before we can deal with someone. Likewise do you think you’ll follow up the web specialist who tells you he optimizes 15 sites a week or the one who asks about your business and then makes a bright suggestion for how you might improve your site’s ranking by having a tip of the week on your bathroom and kitchen site. To recap, in order to get anything from networking you need to:
Top Tip No. 1 Make connections
Just as you would at any social event, ask questions to break the ice and establish a connection e.g. are you from the area, have you always lived in this area, did you see the rugby at the weekend? Aren’t the Scarletts doing well? Do you have children, which school do they go to? Likewise pick up on any clues the other person gives you, if they mention their dog, ask about the dog.
To see more tips sign up to our twice monthly newsletter by emailing me at email@example.com. In the subject line put Networking. Meanwhile do add your own top tips.
Member since: 10th July 2012
I am Diana Vickers, the site owner of thebestof Cardigan & Teifi Valley, which supports the very best of the area’s businesses with their promotions and marketing. The site is soon coming up to its fifth...