It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned networking pro or have never entered a room full of business people - making the most of networking is a skill that needs constant development.
In a world of LinkedIn, Facebook and the myriad of other social media platforms, it might seem more convenient to simply sit in front of your laptop or smartphone and network without leaving the office, but traditional networking remains one of the best ways to build profitable business relationships.
To help you either get started or raise your networking game, here’s a few quick-fire tips that you should never leave the office without:
Why are you going to this particular networking event? What piqued your interest about it and made you book time out in the diary?
Setting a goal for the networking event will give you something to aim towards. Just make sure it isn’t “to sell my products” - because that won’t work.
This might sound obvious, but it you turn up to a networking event looking like you only jumped out of bed moments before, or as though you’re about to go to a festival for the weekend, you probably won’t make the best first impression.
There’s no need to over do it, but smart business attire will ensure you keep that all-important professional sheen to go with your sparkling personality!
Business cards aren’t old-fashioned! They’re essential for networking events, and people will expect you to have them on hand in order to swap details.
You don’t have to dive into a networking event and immediately begin chatting to as many people as possible. It’s a far better idea to suss out the room first.
Grab a coffee, and find a quiet corner where you can gather yourself and survey the room and its occupants. You’ll quickly spot pockets of interest and, possibly, other people doing the same thing as you (approaching them is always a great icebreaker).
After you’ve introduced yourself, let other people do the talking. Ask them about their business, and listen.
You’ll get your chance eventually, and if you dive straight in with a monologue about yourself and your company, the other person probably won’t be giving you their full attention.
Even if you enter a conversation that begins to fade in terms of interest for you, do the decent thing and remain sincere and interested. Smile, nod, and interject with words of encouragement; the other person may not be partner or customer material, but they deserve respect.
The best thing to do in situations like this is to be polite, and end the conversation once they’ve had their say. Thank them for their time and great insight, and move on.
The worst thing you can do after a networking event is… nothing.
However, for follow-up to be effective, you’ll need some decent notes to work from. So, after you’ve spoken to people, jot down a few thoughts that stood out for you. Equally, if you promise to do something post-event, make a note while you’re talking to them to demonstrate that you’re serious.
It’s worth reiterating how important follow-up is, because if you don’t do something with the contacts and notes you’ve made after a networking event, you may as well have stayed in the office!
Enjoy networking in Northamptonshire - it’s one of the best ways to make new business friends.
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