Networking is the not-so-secret weapon to better your business so we thought it best to arm you with some networking tips to make sure you get the very best out of each event you go to.
Going along to different meetings means that you get your name, products and services out there to other local business owners. By building your relationships with them, you can share tips for improving your business and find opportunities for collaboration that you’d never have thought of before. Not only can networking be great for helping you overcome problems in your business by talking them through with people, it can be a perfect for marketing your business and widening your customer base.
By going along to events, you help establish your brand in your local area. It’s common at networking events for each business owner to have a short amount of time to present their business and talk about all the things that make them great. If you can convince other businesses owners of the value of your offer, they’ll then pass on that information to their own clients and networks. Getting recommendations and referrals this way helps you develop trust with your new customers. They’ll be coming to you from someone they already know, adding a stamp of approval to your product or service. If you'd like to learn more about developing this word of mouth marketing, check out this article.
Some people are great at promoting themselves and can talk about their business all day long. Other people are a little more reserved and need some tips and tricks to help them feel confident putting themselves forward in a network setting. Whichever category you fall into, these networking tips can help you make the right impression at an event and make people come to you to find out more.
It’s easy to start rambling, especially if you’re a little nervous speaking in front of a group. Most networking meetings give you an idea in advance of how long you’ll get to introduce your business, with two minutes being common, so you can plan in advance what you want to get across in that time. Nobody knows your business as well as you do, so trust you know what you’re talking about and share your passion. Check out our advice for keeping your pitches clear and exciting.
Research the other business owners
Networking groups often let you know beforehand which other local business owners are going to be at the event. This gives you the edge, as you can do a little research into their businesses and decide who you definitely want to talk to at the meeting.
One of the best ways you can sell your business to a potential contact is to use examples of how you have positively impacted others. If you have some case studies of how your product or service has made a real difference, talk about them when you network. People are more interested in real world applications than the date you set up your business.
Always have business cards
They don’t have to be flashy, but having something with your name, business name and contact details to hand out to the people you talk with at events helps them get back in touch with you after the session ends.
Offer advice and support
Prioritise giving help and support to other business owners before asking for something yourself. It creates a better impression of you and your business than immediately jumping in and taking up support. If you can offer something to a contact, they’ll want to repay the favour later down the line that can be of more use to you.
How you listen to other people at a networking event is incredibly important. If you’re in a conversation with someone, engage with what they’re saying rather than constantly look for a way to promote your business. Forcing connections where none exist and not interacting with what someone else is saying can actually have a negative impact on your business.
Giving out business cards with your details on is great but isn’t a guarantee that someone will get in touch with you. If you take the responsibility for following up on a connection, you’re much more likely to develop that relationship. It’s doubly important for you to follow up with people if you’ve agreed to send them some information, as you don’t want to get a reputation for breaking your word.