So You Going Networking eh?

So you’ve made your choice about which networking groups you want to be part of and you’re attending on a regular basis – so now what? Well, how about some key pointers about what you should be doing to get the most out of the event?
Go Prepared – It might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people turn up without business cards! If you have marketing material or sales brochures take them along – sometimes there will be a specific
place at the meeting where you can display such things.
Dress Appropriately – It is said “you only have a single chance to make a first impression” – turning up in jeans and a sweatshirt, may not do you any favours; likewise “suited and booted” may not be right for your business. Dress according to the impression you want to leave people with – you are representing your business.
Attitude – If you are looking to build relationships with other networkers
at an event, having a smile on your face and a positive attitude is going
to go a long way towards this; as opposed to an impression of Jack Dee or Victor Meldrew!
Name Badge – Wear your name badge on your right lapel. Hmm – now why would that be? Although it is easier for right handed people to put a name badge on the left side, they correctly are worn on the right side so the person shaking hands or greeting has easy eye contact with both the person and the badge as a way to help remember the name or to see where he/she is from, etc.
Elevator Pitch – Be ready to answer “What do you do?” – this will certainly be a question that individuals at the meeting will ask you and some meetings will give you the option to introduce yourself to the group. You’ll only have a couple of minutes at best, so make sure you are clear about your message.
Practise it beforehand and write it down, particularly if you are introducing yourself to the whole group.
Do Not Sell – No one likes the over-bearing, foot in the door, in your face type sales pitch – so don’t do it! You will come across as desperate to want business and you will turn people off. Your job is to start to develop relationships with other networkers. If you meet a potential prospect that
you think is interested in what you have, ‘sell’ the next step which might
be a 1 to 1 outside of the networking meeting.
Message – Understand who your ideal client is & tell people. This way
they will be able to refer the right type of people to you. For example :
“I work with MD/Owners of businesses with 5-50 staff who are based in Northamptonshire who are either looking to grow their business or need some help”.
“Two Ears, One Mouth” – Listen twice as much as you speak. You don’t have to speak ‘at’ people telling them all about the wonderful stuff you
do. You will generate as good, if not better, relationship with people if you
provide them a listening ear.

‘Manage The Room’ – Understand who is at the meeting (maybe find out
in advance so that you can ‘target’ the people you want to meet) and who would be the best people to connect with as potential prospects or  referrers of business to you. If you get stuck with someone who is either boring or not particularly relevant to you, don’t be rude, but politely excuse
yourself.
Be Professional – Again, maybe an obvious one, but be conscious of how
you are coming across to the rest of the room. Don’t dominate conversations, be loud  or appear arrogant. You know what I
mean – you’ve probably met them (or at least heard them) at events you’ve
attended.
Follow Up, Follow Up, Follow Up! – After the event, if you connected with
someone of interest or committed to send them something, arrange a 1 to
1 or drop them an email. Have Fun – There is nothing to say you can’t have fun at a networking event. Humour and the subsequent laughter (hopefully!) is a good way of connecting with people and
developing relationships.

Sc: UKBA, MGBA

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