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The Power of Business Networking

The Power of Business Networking

 

Five simple steps to better networking

 

Before Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook people used to speak to each other – like properly, actually stood in front of each other. I know, weird right? But let’s not right off physical events just yet. They are still hugely valuable and can be a fantastic step when establishing a business.

 

Networking events have changed quite a bit over the years, going from long wine-filled lunches and golf to a variety of breakfasts, dinners, speed networking, socials, speaker events – and everything in-between.

 

We’re not going through all the ins and outs of every type of networking event, because life’s too short. We are however, going through a few handy tips to make the most of any business event.

 

Where to go

 

There are a host of different groups and organisations offering events, whether you’re a member of a Chamber of Commerce, trade association, membership organisation, or you choose one of the dedicated business networking groups.

 

The key is to choose the one that’s right for you. Try a few different ones. Find out what type of businesses attend, what styles best suit you and how far reaching they are. There is no right or wrong answer here, but think about the type of people you need to get in front of, in what area, at what seniority level and which type of event you feel most comfortable.

 

Know what you do

 

This may sound odd, but knowing how to describe who you are, what you do and what your business does in a concise way that doesn’t make people feel you’ve just vomited your entire corporate brochure over them can be tricky.

 

Practice your “lift pitch” (I know it should be elevator pitch, but we’re in the UK). Imaging you get into a lift with a prime contact and only have the time between floors to describe who you are and what your business does. Go on, try it, it’s not as easy as you think.

 

Know what you want

 

Are you looking for contacts, customers, advice, sponsors, investors, mentors…

 

Be disciplined and don’t get stuck talking to that one guy at the buffet for half an hour because he has kind eyes and is really easy to get on with. You’re investing your time and money for a reason and don’t forget it. Make the event work for you.

 

Don’t sell

 

You walk into a room and see 20 people. These are NOT 20 potential clients to sell to. They are 20 potential contact that may be able to help you, advise you, refer you… and possibly buy from you if it’s right.

 

Build relationships, be nice and ask about them. If you build strong relationships and they know what you do and trust you, the sales will come naturally. If they’re not the correct person, the relationship will help make sure they recommend you when they meet the correct person. Get it right and you gain new friends and ambassadors – a proper business network.

 

Follow-up

 

Following up is always key. And I don’t mean calling them as soon as you get back to the office to make sure they got back safe – that’s just creepy. But do connect to those you spoke with on LinkedIn and Twitter etc. If you promised to stay in touch, drop them an email just to say it was nice to meet and provide them with your contact details.

 

This subtle follow-up starts to build a stronger network. If there's one particular contact you want to chase, you can always use this method to meet for a coffee at another stage, rather than try and sell during the event.

 

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