Business networking is a brilliant way to create sales opportunities and develop contacts who could help you out in the future.
It is low-cost, easy to do and will help your fledgling business expand – it really is a no-brainer.
But what is the best way of going about it? Check out our top tips and become a master of networking…
1. Before you head out to your first meeting write down what you want to get out of it. By setting yourself some goals you can focus on completing them rather than wandering around aimlessly.
2. Next have a look online and find the right groups for you. It sounds obvious but by going to the wrong ones you could be wasting a lot of time and opportunities. However, this doesn’t mean you should reject an event just because it doesn’t sound exactly right. Be open to groups who have a loose connection – you never know who you could meet there.
3. If there isn’t a meeting out there for you and your business then create one yourself. You’ve already started your own business so you are likely to be a proactive person. Take the initiative and contact like-minded business who you think would benefit from networking.
4. Before you go to an event do some preparation. Make sure you know what is going on, who the speakers are and who might be going. You will look a lot more professional and will feel a lot more relaxed knowing you have done your homework.
5. Don’t forget your business cards! You should be carrying them with you everywhere you go but double and triple check you have them before you head out of the door.
6. When you attend make sure to dress appropriately – these are business meetings after all. There will most likely be a dress code on the invitations so stick to these but if in doubt being too smart is better than being too relaxed.
7. Leave your nerves at the door. Networking can be daunting but it is for everyone so be confident and get stuck in – there’s only a limited amount of time and you want to make a good impression with as many people as possible. If you need to take a moment or two to steady your nerves before you go in then do it.
8. It is easier said than done but be as charming as you can. This means being genuinely interested in what the other person is saying. Listen careful and ask questions. Networking is all about creating partnerships and they have to work both ways.
9. After the event make sure to follow up on any positive connections that you made. This could be a quick email, connecting on social media or even a phone call.
And don’t worry if you aren’t a networking whizz straight away – after a few practice runs, and by following our advice, you are bound to a prolific mixer soon.