Do you network to add to your collection of other people’s business cards or do you network to increase your sales and grow your business?
- Go to the right event where you will meet the right type of people for your business
- Be prepared, take your business cards and a pen
- Know your goals, decide how many ideal clients / suppliers you intend to speak to and how many follow up meetings you want to come away with – be realistic
- Work the room, find out who will be useful to you – look for potential customers and suppliers
- Display good manners, ask the person you are talking to about themselves and their business and wait to be asked before talking about yourself
- When asked what do you do, say what you can do for a potential client, do not give your job role, I am a VA (Virtual Assistant) which doesn’t sound very inspiring, so when I am asked what I do, I answer something along the lines of “I take the stress out of your working day by taking care of all your outstanding admin jobs” or “I can give you those extra hours in the day that you never seem to have” or “I can help you achieve a better work / life balance” and when I am asked “how?”, I can then say exactly what I can do to support them.
- Show interest in the other person by asking open questions, who do you work for? What’s your role in the company? What changes do you expect to happen in the foreseeable future? Where are you based? When did you get into this business? How’s business?
- Ask who their ideal client would be, offer to introduce them to their ideal client should you come across them
- Follow up, rarely is business done on the night so leave the event with at least a follow up meeting / coffee booked
- Build relationships and enjoy
- Don’t waste time with people who are of no consequence to your business
- Don’t butt into conversations, look for an open group and always ask permission to join by saying something like, “do you mind if I listen in?” “Do you mind if I join you?”
- Don’t appear uninterested when talking to someone by looking around the room for someone more interesting to talk to
- Don’t aggressively sell on your first meeting
- Don’t just talk about yourself
- Don’t just attend every networking event you come across and collect business cards
- Don’t spend all your time talking to the person you feel most comfortable with, excuse yourself and work the room
- Remember, you are not there to make friends, you are there to build business relationships and potentially increase your client base
- Don’t speak derogatorily about your competitors, always portray a professional image
- Don’t swamp other delegates with promotional material, save that for subsequent meetings