51% of people who go to networking events say they don’t like them because they feel uncomfortable at them. But if you’re looking to make new contacts or meet like-minded people then networking is a great thing to do.
Four in Five people who have networked say their business has benefitted from it whether it be making contacts or just receiving advice that has been helpful.
It can be difficult to walk into a room full of strangers but if you’re prepared then your next networking event will be a piece of cake. Here are some top tips for effective networking;
- Be ready with a short, simple way to describe your business. This will be the first question you are asked so it’s good to have something prepared that covers as much as possible, this can prevent unnecessary ramblings. Hold your drink in your left hand so you are ready to shake hands on introduction.
- Join in. Don’t stand at the side waiting for people to come to you. Start conversations before the networking has begun if possible. If you’re with someone in the lift or waiting for the person to finish with the coffee pot, just a ‘lovely day today isn’t it?’ is all you need to start things off. But once the networking is underway be amongst it.
- Keep it informal. Don’t go charging in with a sales pitch, forcing business cards into everyone’s hands. Be brief and interesting and leave people wanting to know more. If you do find someone who could be a potential customer take their card and send them an email after the event.
- Choose your event wisely. Don’t just choose one with a catchy name, find out what it means, who will be there, where it is and how much it costs. It is good to network and meet a range of people but if it’s going to be a waste of your time then it’s not worth doing.
- Don’t linger with the same people for too long. There is usually only a short time at these events so getting round to everyone is important; after all you are there to meet people. Make sure when it’s time to move on you are polite, if you warmly say ‘It was nice to meet you. I should pop round and meet a few more people before I have to get back to work.’
- Introduce and help other people. People will remember the person who pointed them in the right direction. Then in the future they will be happy to do the same for you.
- Follow up. You don’t want all your hard work to go to waste. If you meet someone worth knowing, promptly follow up with them. This shows you are serious and proactive.
So, now you’re ready to get out there and network. Who knows maybe we’ll see you at an event soon.