I could be described as a serial networker, perhaps I just enjoy being out and about but I truly believe that people do business with people they like, particularly in smaller companies when you get the chance to meet the decision maker or influencer. And if you don’t get out and meet new people how are they going to find about you?
But are all networking meetings the same? No definitely not, there are different groups for different people, you have to experiment and find three or four key groups that really work for you. I don’t enjoy the strong sales and recommendation groups but I know others that have attended local groups for years and done very well out of them.
Once you’ve researched what groups exist and who runs them don’t feel under pressure to join immediately, most good networking groups will allow you to attend one or two meetings and get a feel for how things work and who attends.
Top 10 Tips for Effective Networking
Turn up on Time
Check out where the group meets and if it says 7.00 for 7.30am don’t rush in at 7.30am or arrive late as it will just make you flustered. Don’t forget some groups change venues each time.
Don’t stick to only talking to people you know, make it a target to try to talk to two or three new people at each meeting.
Start a Conversation
At the coffee or buffet table you can talk about the food or drinks and then say ‘Shall we stand over here’ or find a loner and say ‘These meetings can be a bit daunting is this your first time?’
Good opening conversations are ‘How long have you been a member of this group?’, ‘How has your week been?’ ‘What line of business are you in’ or just smile and say ‘Hello’.
Once talking keep the person engaged by playing equal parts listener and talking, people love to talk about their business.
Work the Room
Don’t linger too long with any one fellow networker. If you get stuck make your excuses whether it’s a coffee/loo break or ‘Excuse me I just need to catch up with someone I met last time.’
Don’t thrust your business card into everyone’s hands, just pick two or three people who you can help or you think can help you and make sure you always follow up after a meeting.
Make sure you have business cards and any literature to hand in case someone is interested or many groups allow leaflets to be displayed in a central area.
Don’t be a Networking Bore
Never dominate a meeting, if you are invited to say who you are and what you do around the room stick to something short and memorable. Invite people to speak to you later or if you want to say more, offer to speak at a future event.
Be in it For the Long Term
Networking is not a quick way to make sales (although it can be…). It’s not just about the people you meet on the day take your time to get to know fellow networkers, maybe you can recommend someone to help solve one of your customers or friends problems – or vice versa. Don’t dismiss anyone as not being relevant to you.
Finally relax and enjoy it, the more you get to know people the easier it will be so stick at it and you could well be reaping the rewards!
Do you have any top tips for effective networking, I’d love to hear them. If you want to receive more tips and information sign up for my newsletter.
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