Although networking is a really important tool for growing your business, it’s something few of us are taught how to make the most of. We just kind of find our way with it and hope we’re doing OK!
If you’re not a naturally confident person, networking events can feel like an excruciating experience of standing alone in a busy room, unsure of how to approach anyone and loitering by the drinks table simply to give yourself something to do!
A great tip is to look for the organiser when you get there, introduce yourself and they are likely to then introduce you to someone else to get you off the blocks.
Although there are no hard and fast networking rules, there are a few dos and don’ts which can help you feel more self-assured, ready to mingle, and more importantly, enjoy the next event you attend.
After all, everyone is there for the same reason and wants to know who you are and what you do.
- 1. Don’t assume everyone is super confident
If you’re feeling a little nervous about talking to strangers, the chances are, there are plenty of other people there feeling the same! Don’t be afraid to make the first move – striking up a conversation with someone is enough to make both you and them feel more comfortable. And they’ll remember you for that!
- 2. Do listen
It can be tempting to feel like you need to tell everyone as much information as possible about you and your business. But asking questions about the person you’re talking to is a much better way of connecting with them. It makes them feel that you’re interested in them and by really paying attention to their answers, you can assess if there are any suitable potential opportunities to work together in the future.
- 3. Don’t go in for the hard sell
Think of a networking event as a chance to make new contacts, not to make sales. Using every conversation as a sales pitch is a real no-no and a big turn-off – no one enjoys being sold to. And never, ever, throw your business cards around like confetti! Instead, when talking to someone new, think about other contacts in your network who could be beneficial to them and offer to connect them..
- 4. Do keep the conversation short
Even if you’ve met someone who you think could do wonders for your business, don’t hog them. Not only could you miss out on meeting other great contacts, you’ll also be preventing them from doing the same. Say something like – shall we go and join that group? Or suggest that you go off and find others to chat to, then either meet up in a while or say goodbye at the end to compare notes.
- 5. Don’t forget to swap details
Take plenty of business cards with you and use them! Offering your card not only prompts them to do the same but it can be a useful way of politely winding up the conversation if you feel your chat has gone on a little too long. If you give a card, always ask for one too.
- 6. Do prepare an elevator pitch
A quick one or two sentence summary of your business is plenty. Nobody wants to hear a long, rambling explanation of the ins and outs of your working life. And don’t use jargon – you want people to instantly understand the service you offer, not feel like they’re playing a game of ‘business buzzword bingo’!
- 7. Don’t butt in!
Resist the temptation to jump into someone else’s conversation – even if they’re talking to someone you’re desperate to meet. Think about how you’d feel if you finally got to chat to that person and someone did just that to you! Wait a minute, you’ll be spotted and invited into the chat.
- 8. Do follow up afterwards
A quick ‘nice to meet you today’ message on LinkedIn is perfect. Once connected, be sure to follow them and comment on/share any relevant posts to maintain the connection. See who you can connect them with and try to be helpful to them in the future.
If you’d like to join our friendly networking group and try out some of these tips, get in touch today.
All members know in advance that a guest is coming so we promise a great welcome and you’ll not be left alone at the tea table!
Book your free visit today – we also treat you to a tasty breakfast!