Five tips for effective networking
Effective networking can help grow your business when you have little money for marketing. Here’s how to do it.
1. Have a clear idea of what you want to achieve
When I invest time and money in attending networking events, I do so with the objective of making two to three good connections at each function I go to.
The number of people I meet who seem to have no purpose in attending always surprises me. Are they there to meet new clients? To meet possible referral partners? Sometimes I just don’t know!
2. Smile and be nice to everyone
It pays to be nice to everyone at these functions because business circles in cities are small and at networking events even smaller.
If you find yourself lost for words or a little nervous at networking events, the best tactic is to smile and ask the other person questions about themselves. Most people are happy to talk about what they do and while they’re chatting away, you’ll have the chance to either think of some additional questions or plan your exit strategy!
3. Join in on a conversation – politely
One of the intimidating aspects of attending networking functions on your own is the prospect of introducing yourself to people you’ve never met. Like many others, I find this extremely difficult.
One of the ways that I introduce myself to a group of people who may be in mid-conversation is to smile and say, “May I join you?” It‘s a polite way of interrupting the conversation and breaks the ice. Try it – it works for me.
"Sticking to the lemonade may seem like an obvious suggestion, but I am often amazed at the number of people who attend business networking events only to have too many glasses of wine. "
4. Don’t have too many wines
Sticking to the lemonade may seem like an obvious suggestion, but I am often amazed at the number of people who attend business networking events only to have too many glasses of wine. Have your Friday night drinks with friends at a local pub!
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5. The difference between SPAM and good follow up
The key reason most business owners attend networking events is to make new business connections, which often require a follow up phone call or meeting.
I often meet people at networking events who I have no need to do business with in the short term, but who nonetheless are valuable contacts for future reference.
One of the ways I keep in contact with them is through my regular e-newsletter. However, I do seek permission before I enter a new email address into my database.
I’ve found that the easiest and most cost effective way to do this is to send an email in the days following the event introducing myself again and asking if we can keep in contact through my e-newsletter. So far, I haven’t had any refusals.
Effective networking can be an inexpensive way of building your brand, lifting your profile and attracting new clients. It’s part of the marketing strategy for my business and has been a good source of new and potential customers.
How do you make networking work for you? Please share your tips for effective networking below.