I thought it was about time to share some more thoughts on making the most out of networking. You may recall a previous post 5 Tips to get more from your Networking, where we covered the basics. Those obvious strategies to implement to ensure your attendance to any networking event is time well spent. After all, taking time out from your busy working day needs to prove productive and you want to get the most out of every opportunity.
So you’re ready to attend. You’ve got your marketing materials to hand, your smile is genuine, you’re armed with some great questions to ask people (and are prepared to be spontaneous with other questions from taking an interest in what others have to say), what else could you consider to get even more out of each and every opportune moment?
Remember the objective – If it’s your first taste of networking, then it can be overwhelming. Emerging yourself into a room full of strangers who may already have connections and look comfortable already chatting to each other, can leave even the most confident of communicators a little nervous. What you need to remember is that everyone in attendance is there for the same reason. To make connections and increase opportunities. It’s not about a ‘jolly’ away from the office. It’s not a competition to see how many business cards you can hand out or collect and then do absolutely nothing with… It’s about instigating business relationships for the future.
Be clear on what you do – You want to be able to hold the interest of others when you are explaining what it is you do. Make sure that you are able to clearly articulate your products or services when you are in conversation. If you are not clear, how can you expect your audience to understand what you have to offer. It may instigate questions from them, but will they be the right ones? You don’t want them to have to waste valuable question time trying to find out what it is exactly that you do, you want them to already visualise what it is that you can do for them. The questions they should be asking are those that come from the realisation of how what you can provide will benefit them.
Don’t be afraid to take notes – Of course, you don’t want to look like some kind of reporter. However, by taking notes on the back of someone’s business card (or in a notebook), you are demonstrating a genuine interest in what they have shared with you. You don’t even have to do this during conversation, you could take a moment once someone walks away to write something down. Make them personable because this will help you to instigate conversation when you do those all-important follow ups.
Networking doesn’t have to be daunting. If you approach it with the right mindset it will be a very enjoyable experience.
It’s all about making the most out of every opportunity and getting the most out of your investment.
What other networking tips do you have to share? How did you overcome the hurdle of those first time nerves? Have you noticed growth in your business since you started networking? I’d love to hear more about your experiences.
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