You might have already been told – perhaps even regularly – of the importance that networking holds for taking a business off the ground or simply to new heights. Still, you could fear even attempting networking; 62% of British adults have never been to a networking event, reports The Guardian.
That’s one finding of a ComRes poll in which 51% of respondents admitted to having felt uncomfortable when networking. However, your discomfort could be eased if you follow these tips…
As you enter the room, consider what you can offer:
Where do your most notable strengths lie? What do you have that other businesses might lack – but, crucially, seek to get? These are questions that should be going through your head as you enter a room with other businesspeople awaiting networking opportunities.
These questions are about instilling a mindset of generosity rather than desperation. Making this switch can, in many people’s minds, position you as the person to turn to for an array of needs.
Don’t forget a good supply of business cards:
You might initially mistake this for overly obvious advice. However, you would be surprised how many attendees at networking events reach to take out a business card only to realise that they apparently don’t have one. You need not only business cards but also a large number of them.
Don’t be afraid to go as far as carrying a wallet just for business cards; the trick is to make sure that you’ll never be empty-handed when an amazingly good networking opportunity comes up.
Prepare a short and concise “elevator” pitch:
The reference to an “elevator” pitch comes from The Telegraph writer Josephine Fairley, who advises that you give yourself a maximum of 90 seconds to pitch your firm and what it offers.
This pitch, which you can prepare and practice well in advance of the networking event where you will roll it out to potential contacts, should detail various things. Those ought to include what you do, where you work, your goals and – if you have clients – who they are.
Listen to other people’s pitches, too:
Whether or not the person to whom you speak has also been reading Josephine Fairley’s advice and acted accordingly, you need to allow them time to speak about their credentials as well.
As this person tells their story, your mind should be running over the subject of how you could help them. This doesn’t necessarily have to mean providing direct help; for example, if you point them in the direction of someone else, you are still proving yourself useful.
Be quick to follow up:
Real Business advises that the sooner you get back in touch with a contact after the networking event, the likelier they are to recall their time meeting you and respond to your follow-up positively.
You could even arrange a new networking event that they can easily attend. For example, if they run a County Durham business, consider booking meeting rooms in Chester-le-Street for that event.