Business networking events are things that you either love or hate. But even if you hate them a few business networking tips will make them that much more enjoyable, and if you love it then they will only enhance your success.
People who are really good at business networking often hate the term because they see it as something natural, rather than performing a function or a chore. It is simply meeting people, some of whom you will like and some that you won't. But if meeting a roomful of strangers really frightens you then run through the checklist below so you feel more confident when you do.
Prepare your pitch
One of the best business networking tips you can have is to be able to easily and succinctly describe your business in less than 20 seconds. If you start with “it’s quite complicated…” you are going wrong.
Get your business cards ready
Do you feel proud when you hand over your card? Do you like it? Do you have enough to give out? Are your contact details up to date? If you have answered 'yes' to all of the following then you might be surprised at how many people you have an advantage over. Business cards are the main props at business networking events so make sure yours works for you?
Learn to remember names and faces
Here's one technique which works: When introduced to someone simply ask their name and then repeat it back to them. As you do so visualise someone you know well who has the same name standing beside them. If they then tell you that there company is, for instance, a bakery then visualise your friend holding a loaf of bread. Try this for every person and at the end of the event look through all of your collected business cards and see if you can match the names to the faces.
Have something to offer beyond your product
Nobody likes to be aggressively sold to but people feel obliged to consider a proposition from someone who has helped them. Great business networkers are often generous people and look for ways to help those that they meet. You already know people, you have knowledge, so be generous and help people out – they won’t forget.
Listen and look for openings
Something which already connects you to the person you are meeting is the perfect conversation starter. Listening to people and demonstrating a real interest in those you meet is paramount to success.
Don't overstay your welcome
A few minutes with each person is the norm so don’t overstay your welcome or allow yourself to be bored by those you are talking to.
Select the right events
Not all events are good for you, so call the organisers and do as much research as possible before attending.
Follow up but don't expect instant results
If you have met someone the night before who was of interest then a quick email the next day to say hello is a good move. It will give you an advantage over all the many other people they met last night.