We’ve all heard of networking. Most of us know that it’s pretty important when it comes to growing your small business. A good proportion of us might feel daunted by the whole idea. Some of us just plain terrified! But the key to success is, of course, your approach! So what do you think? Do you know how to network effectively? Do you feel as relaxed as these two when you go to a networking event? If not, read on – here are our top five tips!
Networking is the number one unwritten rule of success in business.Sallie Krawcheck
1) Find an event that works for you
There are so many networking events out there. Some are formal. Some are super-relaxed. There are those that restrict membership to one per profession, and those that are open to all. Start times vary from breakfast to evening! There are networking events out there to suit every business, timeframe and personality. The first step is finding the one, or ones, that work for you.
By doing so, you will feel more comfortable, and when you feel more comfortable, you are far more likely to network well, and by extension, achieve your networking goals
2) Set yourself some goals
Goal-setting is always helpful when it comes to how to network effectively. Again, your goals are very much dependent on what you want to achieve. It can be something as simple as going along to an event in the first place, if you’re particularly nervous. Another example might be to talk to a certain number of ‘new’ people, rather than staying close to existing contacts. Or it might be to identify and connect with someone in a particular profession. Even a specific person if you know they’re going to be present.
Then you can put in place a plan to achieve those goals. For example, if going in the first place is a challenge, plan to get there early so there are fewer people present. Or if you want to connect with someone in particular, why not contact the organisers and ask for an introduction?
Again this can be really helpful, especially if you’re nervous. Here are a few ideas of areas you might like to explore:
- How are the events run and what’s the format?
- Are they large or small?
- What kind of businesses attend?
- How formal is the perceived dress code?
- What is expected of you as an attendee? Eg. is it all just ‘free conversation’? Or will you be required to do some sort of introduction? If so, prepare it in advance!
4) Give more than you get
Networking is more about farming than it is about hunting.Ivan Misner
This quote is so very true. It isn’t about hunting down as many people as possible so that you’re on their radar. It’s not about handing out as many business cards as you can. How to network effectively isn’t about being the loudest or the most popular. It’s about starting to build mutually beneficial relationships? And the best way to both leave a great first impression and build foundations for a great relationship? Give more than you get.
5) Don’t forget your socials!
More so than ever, networking doesn’t have to be restricted to face to face events. Indeed, during the Covid-19 pandemic, virtual networking has been the norm. However, it’s important too, to remember that social media can be a hugely useful tool when it comes to how to network effectively. There are so many groups and communities which have been created on channels like Facebook and LinkedIn, and ‘hours’ on Twitter where users gather together at a given time to discuss certain topics together. You can reach out to companies and individuals and engage with them directly. A simple ‘like’ or comment can be the start of a great new relationship. So don’t be afraid to make contact with people, because you never know – you could be about to meet the perfect person to help you move your business forward.
Hopefully you’ve found these tips useful, and now it’s time to put them into practice! Our own networking events take place every month and are very relaxed and welcoming. There is no pressure to do an introduction and our founders will even be there to meet you at the door if you’re nervous. In addition to meeting a wonderful community of like-minded business owners, we also have an invited speaker every month on a topic related to either business or wellbeing. So if you’re looking for a new kind of networking event to try, come and join us to Get Connected!