10 Tips for Surviving the Networking Jungle
Networking is all about communication. This communication is a two-way process. You are networking to communicate your message, but more importantly, you are networking to communicate with others, to listen to them and figure out how you can help them achieve their goals. In my journey through the networking jungle, I have gained a few insights which I hope will be useful to you and make your networking more effective.
#1. Decide what you want to achieve from the meeting. For example, you might decide that you want to make three new contacts, or that you want to make people aware of a particular aspect of your business.
#2. Know your message. Figure out what you want people to know about you. If you are sure of your offering, it will be easier for you to communicate it and you’ll be less anxious.
#3. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Have a quick look over your elevator pitch or marketing materials to ensure that the points you want to make are fresh in your mind. Take the time to make sure you have all the materials you need.
#3. Grooming. You may already look professional in your office clothes, but a quick spritz will immediately lift your spirits.
#4. Take several deep breaths. It’ll keep you calm as you enter a room full of people.
#5. Find a common ground. Commenting on the venue, the quality of the coffee and the size of the crowd is often a good ice breaker.
#6. Ask about their business first. Listening is the most important skill you can demonstrate at a networking event. It will help you figure out how you can be of use to them and it will build trust in the other person.
#7. Offer your expertise. When you’re describing your business to someone, tell them about the services that are of most relevance to them. Or give them a useful tip or resource that they can tap into.
#8. If you’re new in business and don’t have a business card, take along a one-page precis of your business, including your contact details and a brief description of what your business does.
#9. Remember, you have a skill that no one else in the room has. Even if there are a few people who run similar businesses at the event, none of them offer it in the same way that you do.
#10. Follow-up. If you got on particularly well with someone at an event, arrange to meet up with them for a coffee so you can discuss ways of working together for the benefit of your businesses.
Above all, don’t be too anxious if you’re not getting business straight away. By attending a networking event, you’re planting seeds which, if cultivated well, will bring you a bumper harvest.
Now over to you, what networking insights of your own would you add?