6 Top Networking Tips For Any Networking Event

6 Top Networking TipsIf you’re in business, networking is something that you should be doing on a regular basis and I thought I’d share with you 6 Top Networking Tips that will help you to get the very best from any networking event.

There are a variety of different networking events you can go to, although, you should have a balanced approach. There are highly structured networking events that usually involve membership and take place quite frequently, less frequent events that may be structured but less so – and there are one off events.

If you’re going to any networking event, particularly a ‘one-off’ event, you should always plan your approach. Depending on the nature of the event, there may be some additional things that you need to do but, in the main, here are 6 top networking tips that I would recommend to you.

Networking Tip No. 1

6 Top Networking TipsYou need to take your ‘Networking Tool Kit’ with you.  This consists of;

•    A generous supply of business cards – always carry a spare box in the car as a backup, just in case.

•    Take a nice pen and something to write on or a smart phone, just in case you need to make any notes.

•    Take a Name Badge. If the event you’re going to doesn’t provide them, always have one of your own to hand. Make sure your name is large and prominent so that it’s easy to read at a distance.  People will approach you, quite readily, if they can easily read your name whereas, if you use your business card in a holder of some kind, they’re less likely to do so as they can’t read your name without making it obvious. Of course, it goes without saying that your badge should look professional and not like something that’s been hashed together.

•    Make sure that you have prepared your ‘Elevator Pitch’ or introduction. This is a quick 15 to 20 second introduction of you and what you do – and you’ll know you’ve got it right if people ask you a question after you’ve delivered it. (This should be the primary aim of your ‘Elevator Pitch’)

•    Prepare some great networking questions, making sure that you show interest in the people you meet.

•    And don’t forget to take a Great Attitude!  Attitude isn’t everything ………. but it does come very, very close.

This is all you need to take with you, in terms of your ‘Networking Tool Kit’ and if you’re wondering whether I’ve forgotten about your promotional literature – you can rest assured that I haven’t. You won’t need it! In fact, you shouldn’t take any promotional literature with you: Remember, the aim of networking is not to launch into a sales pitch but to make useful contacts.

Handing out your literature smacks of selling. It’s the worst thing you can do other than launching into your own sales pitch with everyone you meet.

Networking Tip No. 2

Networking Tips - Have a PlanHave a plan and set yourself one or two simple objectives.  Think about the contacts you’re actually looking for. You may make contacts in the following areas;

•    Potential customers – I know I shouldn’t need to say it but I’m going to: Don’t Sell To The Room! Remember that you’re networking not selling. Relationships come first.

•    Potential suppliers – How much money can you save by changing suppliers?

•    People with whom you could create a strategic alliance that benefits both of you.

•    Potential referrers for your business.

Identify what types of business are your Prime Target before you go and then decide how many contacts you’d like to make and in which of the areas you’ve selected from above. Make sure that you get everyone’s business cards – and give them yours.

Networking Tip No. 3

Always get there early. I’ve made some really good contacts by arriving early and it’s easier to get talking to someone when there are fewer people around. You’ll also get to meet the hosts, which is always a good thing. In fact, if you’re very early, offer to help out with the final preparations. It’s a great way to give and will put the Law of Reciprocity to work for you.

Don’t forget, of course, that you’re going there to network. If you get there part way through the event you’ve lost a chunk of the opportunity open to you. Remember, it’s called network, not net bugger about – and you do need to put the time in!

Networking Tip No. 4

Networking Tips - Shaking HandsMake a great first impression by smiling, making good eye contact and giving a good handshake.

First impressions do count and your attitude and demeanour are critical to making it a good one. And remember, you have two ears and one mouth. Make sure that you use them in that proportion – Asking great questions and showing interest in other people will always stand you in good stead.

Networking Tip No. 5

Work the room.  Whatever you do, don’t allow yourself to get too caught up with just one or two people. You shouldn’t be spending more than 10 to 15 minutes with anyone, at the most, as you need to keep circulating until you’ve met your objectives.

Once you’ve met your target and ticked off your objectives (perhaps they weren’t high enough?) you may start to think about which of the people you’ve met that you’d like to move forward with and start to develop more of a relationship with. If you do seek someone out, you should bear in mind that they may not have met their objectives and they may want to continue circulating.

Don’t go and blow it by inhibiting their networking efforts by latching on to someone, just because you’ve met your objectives.  Better to keep on networking and keep making new contacts.

Networking Tip No. 6

Follow Up. We’ve all heard that the fortune is in the follow up. So, follow up promptly and follow up with everyone you’ve spoken to. In particular, you need to follow up with those on your Prime target list.  The aim at this point is to do something to move the relationship forward. Arrange to meet them for a coffee, or something, and start building those relationships. Your focus should always be on how you can help them.

So, there you have it – My 6 Top Networking Tips that you can use at any networking event to help you make the very best of your networking efforts. Oh, and here’s a bonus tip for you, which, when you understand this, you’ll really start to make things work for you on the networking front.

It isn’t about the networking event.  It’s all about what you do after the event!

Networking is great fun so, get out there and enjoy yourself.

Steve Bimpson

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