Attending business networking events is an excellent way to expand your contact base and develop your business. Networking isn’t a short-term solution to winning new business, but if you keep at it, your business will reap the awards.
Make the most of your networking efforts with these 10 business networking tips.
Business networking tips
1. Know what you’re going to say – devise and learn your elevator pitch, so you’re ready when someone says to you, “What do you do?”. Aim for a snappy description that clearly explains your business and the benefits you bring.
2. Have a plan – if you can, try and get a list of the other attendees and identify who you would like to meet. The organiser of the event should be happy to make any introductions for you.
3. Arrive on time – give yourself the most time to make new contacts by arriving at the start time or slightly earlier. Also, if you’re apprehensive about networking, you’ll probably find it easier to make your entrance when there are fewer people in the room.
4. Take your time – don’t feel the need to “work the room”. Focus on meeting a few people and building solid connections rather than trying to speak to as many people as possible.
5. Listen – ask people what they do and take a genuine interest in what they say to you. Respond in a way that shows you understand their business and if you can, demonstrates how your business might align with theirs.
6. Don’t sell – introduce your company and explain what you do but avoid the hard sell. Networking is about building relationships, not making sales.
7. Exchange business cards – before you move on to speak to someone else ask for a business card and pass over one of yours. At the end of the event, I find it helpful to write the name of the network and date on the card as this helps me to remember people.
8. Follow up – make contact with the people you met after the event. You could send them an email, connect with them on LinkedIn or arrange to meet for coffee.
9. Evaluate – assess each event to determine which ones are most effective for your business. With so many networking opportunities to choose from, you need to make sure that you concentrate your time on the most relevant.
10. Keep it up – it’s tempting to drop networking when work is busy, but you need to maintain a presence, or people will soon forget you.