- Be prepared! Have plenty of business cards and arrive in good time. Have your name badge where it can be seen, so when someone shakes your hand, it can be read easily.
- If you feel nervous, plan to go along with someone BUT only as far as the door! Set yourself a goal of meeting 5 new people and challenge yourself to achieve this. Don’t use Networking Events as gossip time with old friends, your time is valuable; make sure your get a return on your investment.
- SMILE! And remember your body language – folded arms don’t give the right impression! Be open and friendly, approachable and honest. Everyone is nervous so be positive. Respect comfort zones but focus on the person that you are talking to – DO NOT look over their shoulder to see who else is in the room.
- Have conversation openers in mind, perhaps prepare 3 things to talk about or a few questions to ask to get the ball rolling. Consider asking ‘How did you get started in your business?’ or ‘What are your key challenges?’ Look for open groups to join, people are there to meet people so don’t be embarrassed to approach someone new and simply say ‘Hi’.
- Communicate! Ask open questions and show an interest. Networking is about building rapport and contacts. Prepare a 30 second opener about yourself and what you do. Be clear and know your USP’s!!
- There will be a natural time in the conversation to exchange business cards, don’t be overbearing and too quick to give your card to someone. Another way is to ask for someone’s card, that way they will ask for yours too. When you are offered a card, take it and look at it – don’t just stuff it away!
- If you can, introduce contacts to other fellow networkers, networking is all about building contacts, so do introduce people, it will also raise your profile as a good networker and a powerful resource to others.
- MOST IMPORTANTLY
People do business with those they trust and this can take time. Your networking should focus on you becoming a trusted person, be prepared to get to know people and let them get to know you.