Tips to ensure networking success
We are all aware that effective networking provides an extremely cost-effective way of promoting yourself and your business. However, even the most confident of us can sometimes struggle to work the room. Here are our tips to ensure that when the opportunity arises you will be able to network like a pro.
Breathe: large group networking events can be uncomfortable for the best networker out there. If your nerves get the best of you, take a breath, compose yourself and then join the conversation. The sooner you see networking as a ‘get to know’ conversation between two people (or a group of people as it may be), the sooner you’ll realise it’s not so bad. Everyone is there to get to know each other. It’s a two-way chat.
Ask the right questions: Building a personal relationship is extremely important but when doing that, it is easy to miss opportunities by getting caught up chatting about social or economic or sporting topics. Make sure you determine how this person could be useful for you and your business. That’s what networking events are all about.
Don’t dominate the conversation or cut off your neighbours: it’s important to be courteous in a group setting and of course participate, but if you’re the person doing the majority of the talking or cutting people off mid-sentence, that’s not going to look good. By all means ask your questions, but when in a group limit it to two at a time, let the other individuals have a chance to engage – chances are you’ll also learn a lot from other peoples questions..
Please don’t take this to mean you shouldn’t participate, being silent in group conversation isn’t what you should be going for. If you get nervous taking in large groups, doing some prep work ahead of time will stand to you. Perhaps have two or three questions ready – they can be generic or specific depending on the environment and what you are most comfortable with.
Don’t travel in a pack: it’s great to go to networking events with a group of your friendsbut don’t be overly dependent on one another and don’t travel together as you network. You need to stand out as an individual and identify the companies or industry groups that are the best fit for you. Break free; it will stand to you in the long run.
Exit gracefully: it’s OK to leave a conversation, it’s just important to do so politely. If you feel you’ve got all you need to know from your time with a person, wait for a momentary lull, thank them for their time and tell them you look forward to seeing them at future events.
Bring business cards: always have your business cards with you at a networking event.
Social media: Showcase that you will be at an event representing your company through the relevant social media channels. It will make other attendees going to the event more aware of who you are and what you’re about prior to meeting you. It just makes the whole process a bit easier.
Research: This ties in well with the social media point; find out who is going to be there. Knowing who is there and targeting who you want to talk to makes the process a lot smoother and efficient than wandering around aimlessly.
Send a follow up: it’s really important to follow up with people you had a connection with post the event to thank them for their time. It demonstrates that you are interested in them and their business as you were thoughtful enough to write a note (no need for an essay, a couple of sentences is perfectly fine).
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