Networking Events are probably the fastest growing area in business today.
It certainly was, for us, an intimidating prospect of having to stand up and pitch your business and selling yourself to others.
After now attending many events, we can now see the importance of ensuring you give the time commitment to them.
What will you get from it?
- New business. Why would you consider attending if you don’t increase sales? However, don’t expect fast results. These clubs take time: to develop relationships and trust;
- Grow your contact list. Whilst not everyone (or indeed, the majority) in the room won’t become your customer, you are growing a list whereby you increase your chances of referrals and recommendations. What’s better than someone recommending you by word of mouth;
- If you attend and you dread going, then you’re probably in the wrong group. It should come with ease over time and become natural;
Here are our top tips for networking like a pro
- Attend different groups. If you are new to networking, then don’t judge a networking event by the first one you go to. You may have a poorly run one with no structure and without the right mix of clients/services. Ensure they are of mixed gender, a mix of corporate and self-employed and some of your target market;
- Attend the successful ones. Once you’ve narrowed down the groups then focus on the successful groups and attend these as often as possible. The groups that seem active, that seem helpful and not just the selfish approach;
- Delegate Lists. Make sure you check out the delegate lists and highlight those you would like to build a relationship with. Do this before each meeting, each week as there should be a constant flow of visitor to add to your contact list;
- Network, Network, Network. The 30-second pitch at the start isn’t going to win you any business so the important part is before and after. The initial introduction part is a good way to identify the faces of the delegates that you have highlighted so you can focus and ensuring you get to talk to them;
- Always introduce yourself with a confident smile, handshake, and business card. If you are in a group that provides name badges then make sure you’re putting it on your right-hand side. Funnily enough, it does make it easier for people to see your name;
- Be yourself. Don’t be robot-like and stiff. Don’t go in for the pitch right away. Show interest in them, ask open questions and have a ‘givers gain” attitude whereby you are being helpful to them. The more you give the more you get out. Look for things in common, personal attributes, family. Something to make you remembered and stand out. Make sure you DON’T slag off your competitors. It’s a big no-no in business;
- Be a Speaker. In addition to using networking to gain contacts, build relationships and trust and eventually making sales, you can use groups to build your confidence by offering to become a speaker. You can have a spotlight section where you can share your business story, share your business services/products or give free value e.g. how to successfully build an online presence or how to keep your bookkeeping in order etc.;
- Attend social events. It’s a great way to enhance your relationships. It’s also a good way of seeing others in a different light. It adds trust again and they are more likely to recommend or use your services if they like you.
- Say Goodbye. Leave a lasting impression by saying goodbye to everyone and if possible use their name as this means you’ve taken the time to have an interest in them;
- Record business movement. A great way to judge the success of a group is to record business you’ve taken but also business you’ve passed to others. Remember – this may not happen overnight and could take a few weeks and months.