Tips for Effective Networking
6th June 2014
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Tips for Effective Networking                                                                 Set your objectives beforehand. Do you want to focus on a specific target audience?                                                                                           Do you want to raise awareness of your service in a specific area?

Allocate time to networking, including planning, time at the event and follow-up.                                                                                          Figure out how much time you need to devote to networking to achieve your goals, and how much time you can realistically spend. Give each group at least two or three tries before you decide how valuable it is.

Be prepared. When you attend networking events, be prepared with plenty of business cards.

Prepare your most natural elevator pitch, a brief one- or two-sentence description of your business that clearly conveys what you do and is intriguing enough that people want to know more. Ensure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date before you attend as this is often the first place contacts will find you, and choose whether to get in touch.

Company image. Think about the impression you want to make. It only takes a networking contact 30 seconds to make a judgement about you. Be careful of the FREE BAR!!!!!

Quality over quantity. A common misconception of networking is that you need to work the whole room; you don’t. If this is your first time and you’re nervous, spend time with a business associate you have met before. They will probably be speaking to other businesses and can introduce you.

A great way to start! Aim for quality connections over quantity. If you have a delegate list and you would like to speak to someone in particular, ask the host to signpost/introduce you. Each time you attend, you will meet new people.

Listen. Listening is the secret to securing new business, to establishing long-term business relationships, and it's also the secret to successful networking. It is tempting to go straight into your elevator pitch about your business, but this can be a real turn-off; the equivalent to a cold-call while you are eating your dinner! Networking is a brilliant opportunity to listen and to carry out some informal market research for your business. Listen to what other businesses are looking for.

Everyone likes to feel listened to.

Exit Strategy. Think how you will effectively end your conversations, especially if you wish to enter into a business association. Suggesting a coffee to discuss how YOU can help THEM works well.

Follow up. You can go to 10 networking events a month, but if you don't follow up on the contacts you make, it's all for nothing. Make diary time within the next 24 hours to follow up on the leads you have found. Most businesses use LindkeIn or send a quick e-mail saying how nice it was to meet them. If you got chatting about something in particular, take action and follow it up. Following up quickly after the event helps to cement you in the other person's mind and starts building the relationship.

Be patient. Many networking newcomers attend an event once and give up because they haven’t come away with new business. The key to successful networking is patience. As you get to know people and nurture those relationships, your circle will grow and your business will grow too.

People buy from people they like and trust.

Be natural. Networking is not all about business. Common interests, personal information and humour are often the bits that your contacts remember about you. It’s a great way to build relationships. It’s easy to get nervous, especially the first time you enter a room of 40 strangers.

Take your time, be yourself, smile and enjoy it!

About the Author

John A

Member since: 27th February 2014

After 30 yrs of experience in the Horticultural Industry building two garden centres from green field sites and a wholesale nursery I thought it time for a change.Although this is a complete change of...

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