Networking: A Great Tool For Your Business
Networking is a great opportunity for new businesses to make contacts and establish themselves in their local business community. This can help you to open up potential future business opportunities and build your company’s reputation.
To make sure you don’t miss out on the possibilities networking could bring you, we’ve listed a few tips to help get you on your way to networking success:
Arriving in style
Get there on time: in order to choose who you speak to, it’s important to arrive on time or even a few minutes early. This gives you the advantage of being cool, calm and collected when others arrive and gives a good impression of you as a punctual and reliable professional. It also increases the chance of getting to speak to the right people as you can strike up a conversation as soon as they arrive rather than approaching them whilst they are engaged in a conversation with others. Early birds have time to talk and form relationships with the event organisers and you can also pick their brain about who could be beneficial for you to talk to within the group.
Working the room
Body language: reading people’s body language is key when deciding who to approach. The golden rule is looking for ‘open’ groups. This is when typically two people are talking with their torsos facing outwards. Such ‘open’ groups invite you to approach and join in discussions. In comparison, interrupting a ‘closed’ group of 3 where all participants are facing inwards could risk you being perceived as rude.
Ask questions: People are more likely to engage with you if you show a real interest in what they do. By asking questions you can encourage them to interact more with you and discover more about what they do. The more you know about their business, the easier it is to see any overlap with your own business and scope out the potential for future opportunities with them or their network of contacts.
Business Cards: it may seem obvious but having business cards makes you look like a pro and having them is an essential networking tool.
Know your USPs: make sure you have your unique selling points (USPs) clearly identified in your 2 minute introduction as well as a summary of what services you offer. Never presume that the group already understands this, even if you are a regular, take the opportunity to identify your company’s offering and reinforce it every week.
Never sell to the room: identifying your USPs is one thing; blatantly promoting your services is different. Bear in mind that blanket sales pitches to a group will never work. Everyone’s needs are different and you wiÂÂll do much better to identify their individual needs and take a more personal approach.
Offer advice: Instead of making people switch off with a 10-minute sales pitch, make sure that your presentations are advice-basedÂ. Use your knowledge to offer useful information and general advice on how to work with your sector, what advantages it can hold and things to look out for. Remember, you are their contact and if fellow networkers perceive you as an advisor then they are more likely to draw on your advice, refer others to you and send business your way.
Interaction: When you remember good presentations and speeches, they usually involve some interaction with the audience. Asking questions that draw on people’s experiences, playing quizzes and games are all good ways to wake up an early morning networking group. It makes your message more memorable and works as an icebreaker if you are new to the networking scene.
Keep going: Regular attendance helps to build relationships with people in your networking group. It also gives an impression of you as a reliable business if you participate regularly and will make other members more inclined to use your services. Even if you don’t get immediate results, the idea is to build a network of contacts so don’t dismiss someone if you think they aren’t immediately in need of your services. It’s not just the group you are networking with but who they know that’s important, the more contacts your business has the more potential future business it has access to.