If work is a little quiet at the moment it’s worth brushing up your marketing skills and get out and meet people. February tends to be bit quieter in my business as my larger clients concentrate on their end of year activities. So for business people who are normally too busy to network this can make it an opportunity to try it out.
And it is a great place to spend time with people who can offer you friendship, support and guidance. If you work on your own or travel a lot, spending time with others in the same boat is appealing. However there are still people who assume it’s all about getting business and not about giving work or referrals.
Networking is relationship building – they even did it in medieval times. It is about recognising the importance of building trust in a community. It’s about belonging and it’s about helping others. It not about going out and telling people what you do and expecting them to say “brilliant I’ll have some”.
So if you are thinking about doing some networking in the coming weeks and months here are a few helpful hints about making the best of it.
Don’t talk about yourself unless you are asked. If they not interested enough to ask then they certainly won’t remember it’s foisted on them.
Don’t offer your business card – wait to see if someone wants it. An unrequested card is bound to end up in the bin.
Don’t prepare an ‘elevator speech’ they all sound the same. I hate the “I help businesses like yours to save time and money”….and so what ?
Attend regularly – you are building relationships
Go to learn about others – ask questions, establish rapport and demonstrate empathy
Find out if people have a facebook business page and afterwards go and ‘like’ it
Link up with those on LinkedIn to continue building the relationship started at the network meeting
Offer to introduce people to people you know if you think it might help them
Prepare the simplest hello you can for first introductions. For example “Hi I’m Charlotte I’m in learning and development – what do you do?”
At the round the table one or two minute introductions – tell it as a story; be it about your business, what you have done for a client or even give a helpful tip for the group. Remember you are building a relationship not selling your wares.
They say people make judgements about liking others in the first 15 seconds of shaking hands……..Make sure that whatever you say is memorable because people remember people.
I host a monthly networking group for Business Women in Swindon which provides members with CPD and long lasting friendships. There so many different groups to choose from depending on your needs and availability. Check out some groups here listed on our main site