Networking can be daunting for some people, it can be one of those things on the ‘to do’ list that never quite happens or for some it can be an enjoyable highlight of the week and a pleasurable way to do business.
Here are some tips that have worked for me and for my clients to make networking easier and more productive:
Be prepared: Research the various networking meetings available and choose ones where people attend, that you want to meet; set objectives of what you want to achieve and who you will speak to at each event, not how many sales you will make.
First impressions: Look your best and behave in a business-like way; be on time; have up-to-date business cards to hand; give a good handshake and keep eye contact, look and sound relaxed and confident.
Introducing yourself: Prepare what you are going to say about yourself, whether it is a ’60 second’ presentation or for a one-to-one introduction, think about what is important to get across and eliminate unnecessary waffle.
Listening and questioning: Listen carefully to what people say to you and ask questions that are relevant and show interest in their work/business; find out as much as you can before you talk about yourself, so you can tailor what you say to make the best connections with them and show how you can add value to them.
Work the room: Be ‘present’ i.e. focus on the person you are talking with; be respectful, when it is time to move on, thank them for their time, rather than making an excuse to leave; remember your objectives, make time to speak to all the key people on your list.
Build relationships: Find common ground, be generous, helpful and positive; you are there to make connections to start to build relationships with people you may do business with in the future; do not try to sell to people, this will make them back off.
Follow up: The most important thing after the event is to follow-up, send an initial email, take any action you agreed with them and then diarise to make a follow-up contact.
Follow them on Twitter, befriend them on Facebook, connect on Linkedin, read and comment on their blog, all these actions will ensure your name stays fresh and positive in their minds for whenever a business opportunity may arise.
Happy networking and do comment below if you have anything to add.