The benefits of attending a network event should never be under estimated.
It’s one of the best places to make new contacts, pick up new business, re-establish relationships and share “best practice”.
It’s amazing who you will meet and what you will learn. In some cases you may not meet the targeted business or person you planned to, but, you may meet someone who can pass your name on or make an introduction to the business contacts you need.
One of the key features of course is that these events allow you to meet more contacts in less time.
Speed networking is especially good for this and it takes the worry about who to approach and how to make an introduction. Because everything is organised, in most cases it will be arranged in such a way that you meet everyone for only a few minutes. Long enough to make and introduction and swiftly brief someone on your company before you move on.
This way you very quickly get to know who is in the room and who you should seek out later to have a longer more leisurely chat with.
The key thing to remember is that everyone there is looking to meet people and do business.
Where and when do you ever get that sort of opportunity? No cold calling and no chilly receptions. Everyone is warm and welcoming and wants to make contacts.
Although not extensive, here are a few top tips to get the most out of networking:
1. Practice your pitch.
You often only get 1 minute to make an introduction at a networking event so make sure you know what you are going to say – small talk and details come later. Use this time to make an introduction you can build on.
This opening statement or introduction is often referred to as the ‘elevator pitch’, think of meeting someone in an elevator and saying “hello”. You are travelling between floors and have just that time to say who you are, where you are from and what you do. When it comes to saying what you do think of what you want to be known for, what you want to go down in history for. Think – “We are great at…….”
2. Never mind your toothbrush….don’t forget your business cards!
The idea of attending a network is to make contacts and exchange details so bring plenty of business cards. Make sure that everyone gets one. More especially, make sure the people you really need to follow up on, do business with or have made arrangements to have a meeting with – get 2.
It’s always good to pass on 2 cards. One for the person you have met and one for their colleague or contact that may also benefit from meeting you.
Remember the key thing about a business card is your contact details. Make sure they are prominent and up to date.
3. Making new contacts and cementing relationships.
Networking is about building new contacts so work the room and seek them out. Especially if there has been an introductory session or speed networking ring. You are going to meet lots of people all who may be interesting to talk to but make sure you especially follow up on those that match your needs. This should be done preferably at the event or immediately afterwards.
Don’t forget, business is about relationships and these events should also be about building and cementing relationships. A quick agreement to get together later is often all that is needed. But if you make a promise to make contact – then follow through and make that call or visit. Sincerity is key.
4. Worried about saying “Hello”
Don’t be afraid to attend networking events.
Everyone is there to say hello and may be nervous too. Everyone welcomes a friendly smile and a genuine introduction and greeting. If a group is in full conversation don’t be afraid to join them, ask for permission to join the group and conversation and then hit off with your pitch. Get it right and you will be amazed how many people will want to know more and start asking you questions. Don’t forget, many conversations come to a natural conclusion or break. Groups welcome new comers to the conversation so get in there!
Remember – networking can be very profitable… but it is also great fun!
The Chamber runs a series of networking events across the region bringing together its members.