Networking Top Tips

By: Gill Fernley

1. Join several networking groups and attend as many of their events as possible. Regular attendance builds up good relationships very quickly.

2. Try and make sure you talk to at least one new person at each event you go to - don’t just stick with the people you already know.

3. Don’t expect that you will walk into a networking event and come out of it with a job or a new client. Networking takes time and patience.

4. Sticking your business card under the nose of everyone you meet is guaranteed to annoy them. Don’t go into your sales pitch straight away and always try to talk with someone rather than at them.

5. Show a genuine interest in other people and what they do and get to know them as people rather than as business opportunities.

6. Don’t disregard someone who doesn’t seem to be of immediate ‘use’ to you. You never know who they know or how they might help you.

7. Manners cost nothing so treat everyone as you would wish to be treated yourself. People buy from – and recommend! – people they like.

8. Be natural, be yourself and enjoy the opportunity to meet and learn from other business people.

9. Don’t be afraid to walk up to someone and start talking. They are there for the same reasons as you are and will probably be grateful that they didn’t have to make the first move.

10. At the end of the day, everyone is there to meet new people and make new contacts so don’t be afraid of politely ending a conversation with someone and moving on to someone else – they won’t be offended.

11. When giving someone your business card, you may want to consider giving them two – one to keep and one to pass on.

12. Try and find something you can do for the people you are talking to. Do you have a contact you can pass on that might help them with a problem they have? Do you know a good supplier who is just what they are looking for? People will remember you as friendly and helpful.

13. If you make a good contact at an event, make sure you follow it up. Send them an email, make a quick phone call – it doesn’t matter how you do it but always, always follow up.

14. Don’t forget about online networking. Join some business forums, put up some posts. You’ll start to recognise some names and you may find that they are going to an event you will be attending which gives you a head start as you know someone already before you walk through the door.

And finally - Listen! If you only take one tip away from this article, it’s got to be this one. If you’re too busy trying to think about what you’ve got to say next, you might just miss a golden opportunity. You’ll learn a lot more by listening and people will be impressed with someone who has obviously paid attention.

In summary, forget the sell, sell, sell - take the pressure off yourself by approaching the event as a fun opportunity to meet like-minded people and always remember that you get back what you give.

Happy networking!

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