Are you new to networking, unsure of what to do, or nervous and apprehensive about attending? Don't worry, we are on hand to help you.
Networking goes hand in hand with running a successful business, however many of us dread walking into a room and introducing ourselves to a bunch of strangers. Take a look at some of our tips to help get you on the road to becoming a successful networker!
Resist the urge to arrive late. It's almost counter-intuitive, but showing up early at a networking event is a much better strategy than getting there on the later side. As a first attendee, you'll notice that it's calmer and quieter – and people won't have settled into groups yet. It's easier to find other people who don't have conversation partners yet.
Ask easy questions. Don't wait around the edges of the room, waiting for someone to approach you. Simply walk up to a person or a group, and say, "May I join you" or "What brings you to this event?" Don't forget to listen intently to their replies. Listening can be an excellent way to get to know a person.
Ask open-ended questions. Who, what, where, when, and how as opposed to those that can be answered with a simple yes or no. This form of questioning opens up the discussion and shows listeners that you are interested in them.
Ditch the sales pitch. Remember, networking is all about relationship building. Keep your exchange fun, light and informal – you don't need to do the hard sell within minutes of meeting a person. The idea is to get the conversation started. People are more apt to do business with – or partner with – people whose company they enjoy.
If asked about your product or service, be ready with an easy description. Before the event, create a mental list of recent accomplishments, such as a new client you've landed or project you've completed. That way, you can easily pull an item off that list and into the conversation.
Share your passion. Win people over with your enthusiasm for your product or service. Leave a lasting impression by telling a story about why you were inspired to create your company. Talking about what you enjoy is often contagious, too. When you get other people to share their passion, it creates a memorable two-way conversation.
Smile. It's a simple – but often overlooked. By smiling, you'll put your nervous self at ease, and you'll also come across as warm and inviting to others. Remember to smile before you enter the room, or before you start your next conversation. And if you're really dreading the event? Leave the negative attitude at the door.
Don't hijack conversations. Some people who dislike networking may overcompensate by commandeering the discussion. Don't forget: The most successful networkers (think of those you've met) are good at making other people feel special. Look people in the eye, repeat their name, listen to what they have to say, and suggest topics that are easy to discuss. Be a conversationalist, not a talker.
Remember to follow up. It's often said that networking is where the conversation begins, not ends. If you've had a great exchange, ask for the best way to stay in touch. Some people like email or phone; others prefer social networks. Get in touch within 48 hours of the event to show you're interested and available, and reference something you discussed, so your contact remembers you.
Become known as a powerful resource for others. When you are known as a strong resource, people remember to turn to you for suggestions, ideas, names of other people, etc. This keeps you visible to them.
Always have plenty of business cards with you at all times. Have you ever heard or even told a story about a successful, serendipitous business encounter that ended with the phrase, “Thank God I had one of my business cards with me that day!”? If so, great! You’re practicing approachability by being “easy to reach.”
If not, you’ve no doubt missed out on valuable relationships and opportunities. And it happens – people forget their business cards. But the bottom line is; there is a time and place for networking: ANY time and ANY place. Because you just never know whom you might meet.
Here at the SACC, we welcome non-members to come along to see if our events are what they are looking for. So, If you are interested in joining us, please visit the Events page and see what we have coming up. We look forward to welcoming you!
If you are interested in becoming a Member, you can find out more here...