19 Nov Do you know how to nail your networking?
Nope, well neither do I. I’m not an expert and to be honest I don’t enjoy it all that much but I DO know I need to do it and I know how important it is! Networking is invaluable for any small business owner. I have however picked up some tips along the way and you know how much I love to share tips!! – (if you have no idea what I am banging on about then you are obviously not following me on social media!)
Anyway, I digress, here are 10 top tips that I’ve collated that will help you when you go to networking meetings (for newbies, novices or just the plain scared – which is all of us mostly!)
1. Build genuine personal connections
Try to be genuine and be yourself. If you go looking for a client and find one and you’re not yourself at the start, over time they will find out you are not as you first portrayed, you will look a little silly and will quickly lose their trust.
Forget the nerves, breathe deep and smile, remind yourself to smile. I have a naturally downturned mouth so if I am not actively smiling, I look like I am in a grump, so I have to remind myself at regular intervals to move my mouth upwards.
3. Listen when you join a conversation, then show you were listening
Nod, agree, say “absolutely” just to let the person you are listening to know you are actively listening. It needs to be obvious but not too obvious!
4. Be yourself and don’t try to sell
Don’t sell ever! This may sound odd as initially, you might think that’s what networking is all about but it’s not. It’s about making real personal connections which could or could not lead to a sale in the future. No one wants a hard sell.
5. Research attendees
Google the hell out of the meeting and try and identify others who are attending before you get there. LinkedIn is good for this as people often post that they are looking forward to a networking event before they go, or post comments about the last one they visited. You could engage with them via LinkedIn messaging and ask them how the event was or that you’re coming along for the first time, can they explain the format or the parking, anything really so you engage and make a connection before you get there.
6. Bring a friend
If you have a friend in business try and bring them along. They will benefit too and help you get over your 1st-day nerves. Don’t bring a friend that can’t engage with people and has no interest in being there. Choose wisely.
7. Be curious
Walk the room, listen to other conversations (it’s not eavesdropping) and look for ways to interject, be curious about what they are talking about, if it’s a new industry or topic you have never heard of then ask questions and learn.
8. Introduce yourself with an anecdote
Think of something amusing but not hilarious to introduce yourself. People react to humour and remember how you made them feel. Not everyone is naturally funny but try and recall a funny situation that your work has presented you with and feed that into your conversation and introduction. If you can’t be funny think of another anecdote that hits a different emotion that relates to your work or business. For example, I often talk about “admin anxiety” and “business stress” and how I can alleviate that. People relate to the words anxiety and stress, I can’t think why?!
9. Learn how you can help a new connection
Once you have listened and know what your other networkers do, sit back and think about how you can help and support them. Do you know a potential client for them? Can you give them any advice that might support their business? Being supportive and helpful is not only rewarding for you but it will make you memorable in a large group. Follow up after the meeting with a message on LinkedIn with your advice and make that connection matter.
10. Go in without a strict agenda and try to make a new friend
There is no quick win to networking and going in with an agenda will not work. Just be yourself and set yourself a target of making just one new business friend when you are there. Keep it simple!
Be brave, put your big pants on and go for it. Your business will thank you for it! Let me know how you get on when you go – drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org