Here at Networking In The City we stage networking events for a range of business sectors across the UK. We find that our clients keep coming back to our events because they quickly appreciate the new contacts and ideas that they pick up whilst attending. But how do they make sure that they get the most out of the event? Here are our top 5 networking tips to help you make the most of business networking.
1 – Come Prepared
Networking events are most likely to be held over lunch or in the evening, at the end of a busy day. Either way, you’ll probably be heading there straight from work and may not have lots of time to prepare. That’s not the end of the world, what’s important is that you do some very basic preparation.
First of all, make sure you know what you’re hoping to achieve from the event – are you looking for potential new clients, partners or are you in search of journalists and influencers who can publicize your business? Work out what you want to achieve from the event, and then work towards that goal.
Secondly, make sure you bring enough business cards. Nothing looks more unprofessional than not having enough to hand out or having to pass over your phone number on the back of a napkin.
Finally, look the part. Some events will have a dress code, but most will be business formal. There’s nothing wrong with shaking things up a little but remember that you are representing your business and be sure to make your dress fit in with your brand identity.
2 – Sell Yourself
The secret to good business is strong personal relationships. People might be impressed by your business pitch, but ultimately they’ll be checking whether you’re the kind of individual they can see themselves having a meeting with or working alongside in the future.
Make sure you appear personable and charming, and don’t be afraid to talk about something other than business. After a while, all that office talk can get a bit much and you’ll be doing your chances of future business just as much good by striking up a good personal relationship with someone through a sports chat or discussing last night’s TV.
3 – Ask Questions and Listen
Networking is a two-way street and it isn’t all about you and your business. Remember that other people will want to tell you about their work, too, and it’s important that you appear interested and engaged in what they’ve got to say. Not only will be make them more likely to want to hear about your business, you may also discover a new contact with whom you can partner in the future.
Ask questions and be attentive, there’s nothing worse than the guy who won’t shut up about how brilliant their business is and never gives you a chance to speak.
4 – Follow-up
The key to networking successfully is following up on the contacts you’ve made at events. All that small talk is worth nothing if you don’t arrange a meeting or conference call afterwards. Make sure you get peoples’ business cards and don’t feel shy in contacting them first – someone has to.
For more information about the importance of follow-up, check out Kemya Scott’s guest blog on the subject: http://www.networkinginthecity.co.uk/category/news/
5 – Do It Again
Networking events shouldn’t be treated as one-off things. Attending events on a regular or semi-regular basis is most likely to deliver results, plus it will give you a chance to meet new people each time.
Also, remember that you can attend events in different parts of the country or even the world. If your business is national or international, it can be great to spread the message.