In these times of electronic communications, 'virtual' conversations, twitter, Facebook and the like, a good old fashioned face to face is still for many the most trusted method of business promotion.
You may be a 'seasoned' networker or you could be nervously contemplating attending your first Networking Event. Whichever camp you fall into if you follow these simple guidelines you can be sure to get the best from your networking experience.
Networking is about being genuine, building trust and relationships. The whole point of these events is about meeting people, so you clearly there will be people attending who want to speak with you, just as you want to talk to them. Most networking events aim for a relatively informal atmosphere so just try and be relaxed and natural.
Small talk need not be stilted.
Practice at home, on the kids, their teachers or when you're at the shops. Making small talk is a skill that will get you through those first initial moments of an important connection, or the awkwardness of finding yourself in a room where you know no-one! It can help you get to know colleagues and clients better – and lets them know you better, too.
Try not to be overpowering
Letting the other person talk first shows your willingness to listen to the other person and will also give you useful information to help you tailor what you say in return. Always being the one to push yourself forward can give the impression of being pushy or overbearing, a trait to be avoided in networking. If you leave an event having heard more than you've said you can consider it a success. However, don't be a wallflower either!
Don't focus on finance
Securing profitable connections through networking events doesn't happen overnight. Concentrate on the other benefits such as inspiration, rewarding relationships and new ideas that can be gained by mixing with others in business. Don’t expect to walk into a room full of strangers and come away with business – it just doesn’t work like that!
Always have a good supply of professional business cards to hand. Some events encourage distribution of company flyers or other promotional materials, others are less 'sales' orientated and it's worth checking the 'etiquette' of any particular event in advance. Its generally a good idea to start fairly low key with the aim to be for people to remember you, not your glossy brochure - time for those at a later date.
You are primarily there to help others.
Whilst it would be nice if they helped you out as well, networking is a two–way street. See your side as being about helping others, not asking them to help you. Asking for favours should only become a possibility once you have learned more about the person and provided some value to them.
Always follow up contacts
When you meet someone at an event be sure to follow through with a simple personal e-mail or telephone call confirming where you met and what action, if any, was agreed. Prompt follow ups are essential. Find out which online networks they use and connect with them, if you're not a member of such groups make it your business to learn about them and sign up - Facebook is not just for the youngsters any more!
Think of it as a social event with business potential, and a chance to expand and enhance your reputation. Be friendly, professional and approachable and you won't go far wrong.
You may find a good place to start is the South Cambridge Coffee Morning, a relaxed informal event which takes place every Friday between 10am and 12 noon - find details on thebestof Newmarket's Events page.
Alternatively, don't forget the incredibly popular Very Early Lunch Club (VELC), which is held on a monthly basis at Anglesey Abbey.
Member since: 15th June 2012
I live locally. Loves travel, my springer spaniel 'Lilly' life,real ale,good food,fast bikes/cars. I run thebestofcambridge & newmarket,VELC business networking.
Love meeting new people and helping...