I’ve been enjoying my journeys through the networking jungle over the past few months, after so long stuck at home on my own. However, though I’m a sociable person, I’ve realised that networking meetings require a different approach to normal social occasions. Recently, I’ve developed a strategy for ensuring that I get the most out of the meetings and I’ve decided to share my wisdom with you. Though what I say may seem like basic common sense, I hope my insights will be of benefit to anyone who suffers from ‘networking nerves.’
1. Decide what you want to achieve from the meeting. For example, you might decide that you want to make five new contacts, or that you want to make people aware of a particular service that your business offers.
2. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Have a quick look over your elevator pitch to ensure that the points you want to make are fresh in your mind. Take the time to make sure you have all the materials you need.
3. Grooming. You may already look professional in your office clothes, but a quick spritz will give an immediate lift to your spirits.
4. Take several deep breaths. It’ll keep you calm as you enter a room full of people.
5. Find a common ground. Commenting on the venue, the quality of the coffee and the size of the crowd is often a good ice breaker.
6. Ask about their business first. It’ll show how interested you are and it’ll also give you an idea of how you can be helpful to them.
7. When describing your business to someone, describe it in terms of what it offers them. Talk about the service you offer which is of most relevance to them, or about clients with similar businesses that you have helped.
8. If you’re new in business and don’t have a business card, take along a one-page precis of your business, with your contact details and a brief description of what your business does.
9. Remember, you have a skill that no one else in the room has. Even if there are a few people who run similar businesses at the event, none of them offer it in the same way that you do.
10. Follow-up. If you got on particularly well with someone at an event, arrange to meet up with them for a coffee so you can discuss ways of working together for the benefit of your businesses.
I know this week’s blog is a little off topic, but ultimately, networking is a form of communication. People deserve to know about your business. If you spread the word about it in the right way, you’ll reap the rewards.