Face to face networking is a vital part of any marketing plan or strategy and here are my top tips on how to make it work for you...

 

  • Be clear on why you are networking!  This may and can change but ask yourself why you attending; are you looking to raise your business profile, make business connections, find new customers or seek support?
  • It can feel that there are more networking groups than hours in the day.  This can be a good thing; for instance if you are not a morning person then instead of breakfast networking you might prefer to attend groups held over lunch or even curry in the evening!  Whatever you decide be consistent!
  • Having found a group or groups that you interest in and at the right time of day attend a guest or open day or if you can simply attend as a guest.  This is a great way to ‘try before you buy’!  Speak to those there who are already members, ask them if they have found attending beneficial to their business, why did they join and have they achieved this by attending?
  • Understand the true cost of networking, it is not just the annual fee and cost of attending each month (or weekly in some cases) but also your time.  What return on investment (ROI) do you need to say it has been successful for you!  Of course if you are attending for reasons other than financial gain this may not be as important but I would recommend you still calculate the cost, as at some point in the future you will need to evaluate your marketing spend.
  • Be prepared, most often you will need to introduce yourself and give an ‘elevator pitch’.  If you are clear on why you are attending you can tailor your pitch accordingly e.g. a good referral for me is, please can you recommend or I am new to the area  / just started my business and looking to connect with.  By preparing in this way you will appear professional and confident even if you are not!
  • Have a business card that you are proud to give out and give it out!  You may have other literature which should be appropriate to the group itself and the reason that you are attending if giving out.
  • Be professional, dress appropriately for your business and the networking group you are attending and smile!
  • Whatever you decide be consistent, relationship building takes time and often the return on networking is a long game rather than instant return.
  • Evaluate your success against why you joined and cost!

Collecting business cards is easy at networking events but how you use them is extremely important to building those contacts and making networking work for you!  I believe this to be worth covering separately, so look out for my next post!

To Recap

  1. Be clear on why you are networking
  2. Find the right group or groups to achieve the why.
  3. Try before you buy
  4. Understand the true cost
  5. Be prepared
  6. Have a great business card!
  7. Be professional
  8. Evaluate
  9. Be consistent
  10. SMILE!

My Pet Hates at Networking

  • Wearing too many hats – I want to hear about one business, your business (but that is just me).
  • Complaining – at times business may be tough, apart from the fact telling people how bad business is will not bring in business, networking should be fun and positive.  However, do use those that you have met for help and support in a constructive way and in my experience people are only too happy to help!
  • Prolific networkers – they will attend everything, you will probably find that even after several meetings you are unclear of what they do and they will definitely be the complainers … I will say no more!

 

Women on Wednesday
The Best Networking Group in Salisbury