Make your networking work better, with these tips.
Do you find networking is tiring and expensive?
Does it take up too much time without bringing much return?
I want to help you find a love of networking and really get the room working for you, with these five tips…
1. Why are you there?
My first tip is to set objectives for the meeting. What you want to achieve from it? Do you want six new LinkedIn connections, get introductions, or to arrange three 1-2-1 meetings, for example.
2. Who’s in the room?
Try if you can, to find out who will be there. Identify the two or three people in the room that can really make a difference to your business or journey. You can do this by asking the person who invited you, going to the networking organisations website or posting about your attendance on LinkedIn.
3. Before the day
Most networking groups offer you the chance to speak for up to 60 seconds. Prepare yours and practise it until you can say it off the cuff. Make sure you’re clear about the benefits of working with you.
Get on LinkedIn and look at the two or three people’s profiles you have identified. Read all about them, look at their activity, connect and leave a message introducing yourself. Do you have mutual connections? Visit their company page, or website to find some conversation starters.
4. On the day (don’t be late)
Dress appropriately for you and your business. A plumber won’t be expected to be in three-piece suit! Creatives can show their creativity in their dress sense too and it helps people know the real you.
Make a beeline for your new connection! Arrange to go in with the person who invited you so they can make an in-person introduction, or if you’ve gone alone, ask the event organiser to point them out to you or make the introduction for you. Make sure you close the conversation or leave the meeting with contact details and an agreement to email or call to follow up.
Be confident about handing out literature, business cards, or sharing your LinkedIn QR code (find this by tapping the search bar in the LinkedIn app).
5. After the event
I always like to message the people I have had meaningful conversations with and say thank you and that it was good talking to them. If you have taken photos of the meeting, post them on social media and tag the networking organisation and people that were there. And most importantly, make those follow ups!
If networking feels like an onerous task, but you know you have to be in it to win it, the best thing you can do, in my opinion is to set objectives beforehand. If you don’t have ‘key performance indicators’ you can’t measure the success of your performance, the meeting, or organisation.
In Oxfordshire, where I am based, we’re blessed by having a great deal of networking groups to choose from, offering vastly different experiences from supper clubs and socials to very formal structured meetings. Put yourself out there, see what suits you and your objectives best, and have fun!
Want to continue the conversation? You can arrange an hour of free business mentoring with me, so we can set objectives and performance indicators for your networking strategy. I’d be very happy to help.