Networking events allow business owners, directors, managers and sales development people the opportunity to meet, network, learn and do business directly or indirectly by referral.
Networking IS NOT ABOUT selling.
Networking IS ABOUT developing good business relationships with like-minded people.
These are my TOP 7 TIPS:
If you are new to networking try out lots of different events before committing to becoming part of 1, 2 or even 3 groups. This will obviously depend on your marketing budget and the amount of time allocated on developing your business. There are a variety of breakfast, lunch and evening networking events.
The events you choose to attend on a regular basis must:
Membership Groups are generally more structured and organised than Ad Hoc Pay As You Go Events but all have their advantages and disadvantages – you need to find a good fit for you and your needs. Ask other business owners if they can recommend and events that are good for their business.
Be sure to make a good first impression. It does not have to be too formal but you need to be smart and well presented (and clean your shoes!)
Make sure you know where you are going, parking availability if you need it and leave plenty of time for traffic issues/weather etc. If you are one of the first to arrive you will then have time to have a look at the delegate list, plan who you would like to speak with and look out for people as they arrive.
Put yourself out to find something in common with the people you meet – this will give them a reason to remember you. PLEASE remember nobody likes being sold to – so as well as explaining “briefly” what you do show interest in what the people you meet specialise in.
If you swap business cards or are given any literature make notes about when and where you met, anything particular they are looking for, interests, holiday plans, animals, kids etc – this really helps in remembering their name but also if you see them again you will have something impressive up your sleeve for a future conversation starter – people really do like to be remembered.
At most events you will get a chance to speak. This may be for a limited amount of time – 40 seconds, 1 minute or maybe longer. This could be to the whole room or around the table you are sitting at.
Different events have different rules – if there is a time constraint try to stick to it and do not ramble on.
Prepare what you are going to say in advance to make sure your message is clear and simple to understand. This should have a beginning, middle and end:
The Beginning – who you are and where you are from
The Middle – what you specialise in and how you can help the people listening to you
The End – how they can contact you – direct them to your website if you have one
Try and be happy and relaxed – not everyone is comfortable with speaking to lots of different people but believe me the more you do it the easier it gets.
This is really important – from the cards/literature you have collected in Section 4 and in compliance with Data Protection Rules set up a system to record the details of the people you meet, when, where etc – this will be useful for contacting them and also in monitoring what networking activity is most beneficial to you and your business.
A nice message to thank somebody for their company over breakfast/lunch is nice but PLEASE do not be tempted to bombard people with your sales material – remember networking is not about selling!!
1:2:1 – if you are really interested in a particular person’s business and would like to know more why not ask them to meet up for a coffee and chat – this is a great way to develop good strong business relationships.
When you have decided which networking events you like attending and that you think would be a good place to get to know more about the attendees and their businesses – join up and attend on a regular basis.
Continuity of attendance is key to the success of using networking as a productive marketing tool. Networking is not a quick sales fix and it really does take time to become known as an expert in your field – sometimes even months – do not rush it let it develop naturally.
At the end of the day we will all do business with people who we KNOW – LIKE and TRUST
If you have an accountant, they should be your first stop for business advice. If you don’t have an accountant or they can’t help, BuBul has a wide range of experts available. For more advice, contact our expert* Caroline on LinkedIn.
*We’ve picked experts we know and trust who are good at what they do. All of them will give you at least an extra 30 minutes free advice if you contact them and would then charge their normal prices. They don’t pay to be on BuBul and don’t give us any money from anything they earn as an expert.