If you run your own business, networking can be a really effective tool to grow your brand, meet and learn from other business owners and potentially gain new customers.
And just because you’re a mum, it doesn’t mean that networking is off-limits. There are many different formats of networking group out there and they can be a lot of fun. They can often range from breakfast meetings or speaker events, to less formal drinks in a local pub.
10 tips for getting the most out of your networking
Whatever type of networking scenario you find yourself in – whether it’s a formal, organised event, or a more casual, ad-hoc opportunity – here are some basic tips from outsetonline.com that can hep you get the most out of it.
1) Don’t be afraid or intimidated when attending networking events
Many people out there are also nervous about attending and talking at networking events. Waiting around at the edge of a room will make you look nervous, so go and talk to someone standing on their own – they will often be the most open to meeting new people.
2) This is not a sales environment, so don’t over-sell!
Networking is NOT just about buying and selling. Networking requires forging a rapport and getting to know, like and trust fellow attendees. However, you are there to highlight your business so stay focused and ensure you discuss your products or services.
3) Have a genuine interest in other people
When talking to other people at a networking event, listen and show active interest. By listening and helping fellow attendees, they are more likely to want to help you too.
4) Networking is about developing and forging new relationships
It’s always tempting but try to not spend your time with people you already know. Use most of your time to get to know new people or ask those you know to introduce you. You never know who you might meet or what it might lead to.
5) Networking is about developing trust and integrity
If you promise to do something then make sure you do it. It is important to keep your promises! Otherwise you will not only give a negative impression, but also seem unreliable which can harm your reputation.
6) Have business cards to hand – but don’t worry if you forget them
When you give and receive business cards there should be an element of control and purpose. If you have a LinkedIn account use the business cards you collect and ask them to connect. This can help you form lasting relationships.
7) Never discount people who seem to have nothing in common with you
If you get chatting to someone who, at first impression, seems to have nothing in common with you, persevere. Ask questions and keep the conversation flowing. You just never know what could come from it. Even if they don’t directly need your services, they may know someone who does!
8) Encourage people on their own to join your conversation
Your fellow networkers will appreciate you talking to them and making the first approach. This could also lead to some new contacts and business.
9) See what you can learn from people
One of the benefits of networking is what you can learn from like-minded business people who may be facing similar challenges to you. Have they recently launched a new product? What problems did they encounter? Networking is a great way to access advice and expertise that you may not otherwise be able to get hold of.
10) Always follow up with your new contacts
After the event contact the people you meet as soon as possible – hopefully this will lead you onwards and upwards! Remember that networking is not simply a means of meeting new contacts, it’s also important to maintain these relationships as well.
And finally keep smiling and try to relax and enjoy the event!
To find out more about networking and about marketing your business, visit outsetonline.com where you can access a step-by-step online programme of business support free of charge.Rowena Maskell