Tips for First Time Networking
We’ve covered a lot of this before but if you’re brand new to the world of business and you’ve heard networking is the way so you’ve signed up to a networking event (like one of ours for example) and not you’re thinking ‘what do I do?’
It’s a lot more than a meal and drinks, it’s about getting you, your brand and your services out to clients you haven’t met yet.
Here are some thoughts:
Ask Yourself: What’s My Goal?
Set out with an aim: whether it be to get a lead; meet three new people or get a few new contacts. Set out with the idea to achieve something.
Dress Up Nice-Like
It may sound obvious but you want to make a good impression on your fellow networkers because if you look a mess then that sends bad signals out and your reputation won’t start well. Make sure you feel comfortable too.
Always keep your stock levels high so you never run out (don’t be that person) and maybe even invest in a few card cases so they don’t get damaged. It’s also more professional looking to take them out of a case than routing around your bad for them.
Introduce Yourself Well
It’s simple stuff but when you introduce yourself: make eye contact, smile, say your full name clearly and give a firm handshake. Listen carefully when the person tells you their name and try to use it twice when you’re speaking as this will help you remember it and will endear you to them.
Listen More than You Speak
The old adage of having “two ears and one mouth so you should listen twice as much as you speak is quite apt here. Also, let the other person speak first and be interested in them, this will help them relax and realistically, the only way you can learn is to be quiet and listen.
Sincerity and Integrity
Experience is just an important commodity as the financial gain from your customers and potential clients so show real interest in those you’re meeting, that you understand that there’s more than just pursuing job opportunities. The trick is to ask open questions that can’t be answered with simple a yes or no.
Cutting to the chase will benefit you greatly; when someone asks you what you do make sure you can answer in two or three sentences. A more expansive view of your business can happen later, for a brief summary and to not lose people a good concise description will help. People understanding you is more important than looking clever with too many words.
Keep a notebook with you and write down things as people are talking, most people don’t take in much information from spending an hour and a half with different people. Be discrete and remember the idea is to meet up with people later and following up with them will be better for you if you take notes.
The Follow Up
Don’t let the threads hang in the air, make sure that you email people with personalisations, mention something you talked about to show them your conversation was important. Don’t just connect through an impersonal LinkedIn invite (although this can also be important) but invite them for a coffee or lunch and get to know your contact better to see where the relationship could be fruitful.
Those who have been involved in networking for years will tell you that those lunches, drinks evenings and meals are strong ways to see your business grow and sometimes unexpectedly but make sure you are proactive in every step of networking to see your business thrive.
Just also remember to have fun with it.