January is typically a quieter month for businesses, and the perfect time for business owners to reflect on the year gone by, the mistakes and successes, the lessons to be learned and opportunities to take advantage of during the year ahead.
thebestof Haverhill has already blogged about the many benefits of networking, but not all of us are naturals when it comes to meeting new people, promoting our businesses and appealing to potential customers. Walking into a room of strangers can be a daunting prospect, no matter how confident you are in ‘real life’.
So here are our top 10 tips for successful business networking:
1. Relax! Just as you’re attending a networking event to meet people and hopefully do business, so is everyone else in the room. Therefore, it’s very unlikely that you’ll end up sitting in the corner alone with nothing but a stale sandwich. Smile, stay away from the sides of the room and try to enjoy yourself.
2. Don’t automatically switch into ‘sales mode’ or you may turn prospective contacts off. Make sure you listen more than you speak.
3. Patience is a virtue. It is tempting to think of the short-term benefits that come with networking. However, although you may pick up a little immediate business from an event, long-term financial success can take time. Therefore, concentrate on the other advantages of networking to avoid disappointment – new ideas, inspiration and interesting contacts will all benefit your business.
4. It takes time to build trust and rapport with a new contact but make the effort as it is more than worth it. By learning more about the person you’re speaking to rather than diving straight into trying to get business, you will develop a relationship that is based on long-term rewards.
5. Slow down! It is easy to let nerves get to you and as panic sets in, this can lead to either ‘motor-mouth syndrome’ or a complete shutdown of brain and mouth. Take a deep breath and remember that you’re probably not the only one who’s nervous and wants to make a good impression.
6. Don’t forget your business cards! If people are interested in speaking further with you, the last thing you want is to look unprofessional.
7. If you want to contact people after the event, don’t ‘spam’ them with a blanket ‘lovely to meet you’ email. Make sure that you send them a personal event that references your conversation and have something relevant to say.
8. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the world of networking, attending numerous events every month. However, always remember that the main aim of going to formalised meetings should be to make contacts, increase awareness of your business and enhance your reputation.
9. Have fun! Networking is a great way to increase your confidence in meeting new people, and is a fantastic way to get out of the office and socialise – a great plus point if you work on your own and sometimes feel a little cut off from the outside world.
10. And remember, if you are unable to attend the networking meeting, ensure that you send your apologies. Your reputation is based on your actions; don’t bother letting people know that you can’t make an event and you look unreliable and rude. It always pays to be courteous in the business world.
Networking events in Haverhill
MENTA offers a range of free and impartial one-to-one advice, networking opportunities and business skills workshops, designed to help start-ups and established businesses in Haverhill and Suffolk succeed and grow.
A little further afield, South Cambridge Coffee Morning takes place on January 13th 2012 at the Holiday Inn Express Cambridge, Duxford.
thebestof Haverhill has just launched our programme of events for 2012 – an exciting range of business support and networking opportunities that is focused on ‘wanting the best for Haverhill’.
Office Drinks is a great way to meet like-minded business owners in the area, over drinks after work. For full details, please visit the Office Drinks website.