If you’ve been following my profile over the last couple of years, you’ll know I network a fair bit. I’ve learned a few lessons along the way and feel I’m qualified to share some insight.
Don’t be fooled
Networking isn’t for everyone, just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean you have to! (I sound like my mum, the same advice she gave me when I wanted to wear make-up at 13).
Think about your business, who your customers are and where they are. You may bump into businesses you’d like to work with, but the likely hood is you can also reach out to them in other ways.
It takes time
Networking takes time and effort, realistically, don’t expect anything for at least 6-8 months.
You can’t expect to turn up at an event and make that big sale with the first contact you speak too (it does happen on a rare occasion but that’s mostly luck).
It’s about making relationships; you will most likely see these people again. Use the fact you have a shared event as a conversation starter.
You won’t remember what everyone does or what they require so don’t expect them to remember what you do. It takes at least a handful of interactions for that to occur.
Networking requires research before an event, don’t be afraid to follow up with people you didn’t get chance to meet and invite them for lunch or a coffee.
However, don’t make the mistake of overselling to them if you are reaching out by email. This is off-putting.
Make the meeting casual so you can find out about them and the key is to take a genuine interest in them as a person and their business.
This leads to conversations where you can see if there are mutual benefits to working together, it’s about helping and opening your network to them and vice versa.
Don’t get complacent
If you find networking works for you, don’t get complacent when you know 80% of the room. It’s easy to fall into the trap of only networking and talking to the people you already know.
I was given some advice recently to make a point of making three new connections at each event I went too. This takes you out of your comfort zone and makes the event more business-focused, with the added benefit of having familiar people in the room you can always go back to.
It’s okay to be selective
Once you’ve established your network and feel confident about your connections and business relationships, it is okay to turn down invitations.
They really won’t take offence if you fancy a night in.
It does work
Networking works. You need the right mindset, time and energy but an understanding of why you’re doing it. (See my first point!).
So, if you’re new to it, a cynic and don’t see the value, hopefully, some of these pointers will help. It’s not only helped me forge business relationships but also real friendships.
For more help and guidance please do contact me or follow me on LinkedIn.