There are so many networking events out there how do I decide which to attend?
I get asked this question a lot! There is no magic answer as networking is quite a personal thing and you have to make the decision as to what works best for you. You may be representing your company but it’s YOU who potential clients are basing their opinion on and who they will be creating the trust with.
This is why it’s important you do what works well for you as well as your business.
However, I would suggest you consider these points to make your networking worthwhile:
Does the time of the event work for you?
You are unlikely to commit to something if just getting there at the right time is stressful, e.g. a breakfast meeting when you have the children to organise, or a lunchtime meeting which means being absent from the office for 3 hours in the middle of the day.
Is it at a price you can afford?
Expensive doesn’t always mean quality! There are a few membership groups out there that also charge a ticket price for each event attended which can make them quite a pricey event. Of course many are worth the extra money, but don’t discount the more reasonably priced meetings and don’t go gang ho! into something just because you think it must be good if they charge so much.
Look at the ‘quality’ of attendees rather than quantity. If you’re looking to target corporates but you’re in a roomful of charities or network marketers, it might not be the best meeting for you. Of course, just because no one from your chosen target sector is in attendance it DOES NOT mean that the event is not worthwhile. Every new connection you make is effectively a connection with their entire network. Word of mouth and recommendations is invaluable so make sure you get across who you are and what you’re looking for so they understand how they could help.
NETWORKING IS ABOUT CREATING RELATIONSHIPS AND UNDERSTANDING WITH OTHER PROFESSIONALS OVER REGULAR MEETINGS
So what strategies can you use to make sure networking works for you?
- Attend regularly – don’t be a one hit wonder. Make sure you attend your chosen networking meetings regularly and if you can’t make a meeting you’ve booked on to, cancel it and explain why so the organiser keeps you in the loop for future meetings.
- Be friendly – it sounds simple but by being friendly you’ll get a reputation for someone others want to mix with.
- Explain yourself clearly – remember to introduce yourself with your name and your business and a brief explanation of what you do, whether it’s during the open networking or the structured round table networking session of the meeting.
- Don’t bore people! – Ask others what they do before telling them about yourself. People love to talk about themselves and if you ask pertinent questions you’ll appear incredibly engaging and interested, and everyone loves that.
- Don’t get cornered by someone who just wants to talk AT you. If you do, guide them to the coffee station and take your leave while they are preoccupied pouring themselves another drink.
- Remember to have your business cards with you – but don’t just thrust them at all and sundry. Ask someone for theirs first and then offer yours in return. That way you appear interested in them. If you make a note of the meeting name on the business card you’ll find it easier when doing your follow up, especially if you don’t do your follow up immediately and have been to a few meetings so have quite a collection of cards.
- Listen when others are talking – make a note as you listen if something piques your interest. If you don’t do it at the time you’ll forget and it will be a wasted opportunity.
- Tell a story when talking about your business – people engage more when they feel an emotion, whether it’s something funny, emotional or a bit shocking.
- Be yourself! – every business needs a USP and although it’s a cliché, YOU are the USP that your potential clients will be meeting at networking events. If you’ve ever listened to someone standing in and reading the pitch from a piece of paper, you’ll know what I mean.
- Do your follow up – choose two or three people from each networking meeting to go for a coffee with. Even if they might not be someone you’re likely to work with, they may well know someone who could be useful to your business.
None of this is rocket science, but if you’re not confident with any area of networking, from walking into the room to doing the follow up at the end, let’s meet up for a coffee and I can talk you through it all… you might be surprised how you’re worrying about nothing!
I also offering an intense three-hour strategy session to create great business opportunities from networking. In a one-one 2 ½ hour session we go through all your plans and create your personal strategy. We follow this up 4 – 6 weeks later with a 30 minute meeting to see how you’re going. It’s £75 and you’ll boost your confidence and have a plan of action to walk away with.
Get in contact with Judith now if you’d like to learn more about this…