Networking’ has many guises, from building your LinkedIn network, then engaging with your contacts through to the formality of BNI Groups, whatever your style there is something for everyone and we highly recommend taking part in at least two events per week.
Here are our top tips for successful networking
If its face to face, often groups include a session of open networking at the beginning, whilst it is tempting to have an extra 10 minutes in bed, or hang a round by the coffee station, remember, every conversation you have could lead to a sale, take a deep breath and ‘go for it’. Online networking is more structured, usually starting at a dedicated time.
Prepare your pitch
Most networking groups include a section for participants to pitch, often each attendee gets a 60 second slot, many also include a 15-20 minute member spotlight. In this post we will focus on the 60 seconds.
Start by giving your name, we can tell if someone has been on a course with the brilliant Sally Roberts (no relation) as she promotes the benefits of repeating your name “I am Rebecca, Rebecca Roberts” then your company name and a little about your business, or better still how your business helps people, then your ideal client and most importantly who you want to meet. Be really specific, if you can supply a contact name and a company you have far more chance of success than simply saying ‘I want to meet anyone who is looking for a new accountant’.
Be ready with the info.
Online networking usually has a chat facility, make sure you have a link to your LinkedIn or website ready to post in there, if it’s face to face take business cards, paper or digital, or a brochure.
If someone asks to have a 1-2-1 with you afterwards, do it, even if they don’t appear to be your obvious ‘ideal client’ look on it as building your network, its about who they know, if they don’t have a clear idea of what you do, how can they recommend you?
Be present – Online specifically
We have all experienced horror stories during online networking, I am not referring to the person who left their mike on when going to the loo! that’s just unfortunate but people who are clearly not ‘there’ even worse, they do their 60 seconds then turn the camera off, or are looking at another screen throughout everyone else’s presentation, it is so obvious, its rude and it won’t win you any support from the group.