Posts Tagged ‘networking’
Networking is an important way to create opportunities, generate ideas and meet beneficial business relationships. Therefore the more successful we are at networking the greater possibilities we have at enhancing our careers. However business networking can seem daunting and be quite stressful. It doesn´t need to be; here are 8 things you must know about successful business networking.
1. Everyone is there for the same reason and everyone is thinking the same as you.
The purpose of attending a networking event is to seek new relationships and opportunities. Everyone wants to meet each other therefore you can take the initiative to introduce yourself knowing you are helping them out.
2. Don´t aim too high; set realistic goals.
Don´t walk into a room hoping to sell your service or product to everyone you meet. It won´t happen. Instead aim to create mutually beneficial business relationships. Relationships are built over time so a simple networking aim could be to meet some interesting people and arrange coffee dates with those where there could be a possible business relationship. Focus on small steps not your end goal.
3. Do your homework before you arrive.
Think about the types of people you would like to meet and try and find these types while networking. See if there is an event guest list available to highlight any people you want meet before you arrive. Practice a short concise description of your business which is interesting and thought-provoking. Prepare some interesting material to discuss; be up on your current affairs (specifically related to the event). If you come across knowledgeable and interesting you will have better success at with your new introductions.
4. Get started as soon as you arrive.
We typically worry a lot about that first approach sentence, but once you have started the nerves reduce. Try and seek open groups or individuals to approach. A couple with open body language, perhaps occasionally looking away from the other (a sign that their conversation is winding up), or larger groups are probably your best bet. Two simple introduction techniques.
1. Politely ask – Do you mind if I listen in? / Do you mind if I join you?
2. Or, start with – “Hello I am Edward”
Typical response – “Hello I am Bob”
You are in! – “What do you do Bob?”
5. Show interest in the other side and be courteous.
Show genuine interest in their story or business. It is polite and you may learn something useful. Don´t monopolise the conversation or act disinterested looking over their shoulder. We all know what we think of those types of people so don´t be one yourself. If it appears there isn´t really a suitable fit for a relationship prepare the appropriate finish to the conversation.
6. End with an appropriate finish; obtain contact details if you are going to follow up.
Be polite. If you think there could be a beneficial relationship then say that. “It has been good talking to you, I have found what you do very interesting. Would you mind if I called you next week to have a coffee?” If you have had a good short introduction few people will say no. If you receive a positive response keep going to set a day to call, asking them their preference. If you would like to finish with an introduction where you don´t really see a mutually beneficial relationship being formed then the easiest way out is to be very polite. Tell them you have enjoyed speaking to them. You can even go a step further and offer them help. Ask: “What type of contacts are you looking for tonight? Are there any specific professions you are looking to connect with?”. If they tell you one then reply: “Ok well if I come across any I will be sure to let you know.” Thereby you are making it a successful short introduction for them as you are helping them network.
7. Make sure you follow up.
It is about building relationships so you must do what you said you would do. If you get contact details use them. Even if it is just a short thank you note it is a way of continuing a relationship. To help with your follow up write any notes, i.e. hobbies, partner´s name, etc. that could be used in later correspondence. Everyone loves it when you remember something about them that most people would have forgotten.
8. Evaluate yourself.
You will do another networking event so evaluate what techniques or questions were successful and which were not. Remember the successful ones and use them the next time. This will mean you will only get more and more successful at business networking.
Networking is an art, it is something you can study for and done rightly can reap you great rewards. Please feel free to add any other helpful networking advice to help us all improve. Remember take the time to invest in yourself because it is the best investment we can make.