Honest Tips to Get Your Networking Working!

If you are attending events as part of your strategy to meet more people and gain business, then here are some quick tips to be successful! Warning: we're going to be very honest and you may even be able to relate to some of these situations!

1. Be approachable

This might sound obvious, but nobody is going to come over and introduce themselves to you if you don't look like you want to be spoken to.  Make eye contact and smile, encouraging conversation and introductions.  A name badge helps to break the ice when you first meet someone.

2. Body Language

You are attending the event to make new connections so make sure your body language is open and welcoming.  If you have your back to the door as people walk in, it won't look like you want to talk to people arriving!  Your body language gives off signals to other people, so be aware of any habits you may have and be confident....but not too confident because nobody likes that either!

3. Business cards

There is nothing worse than meeting a someone for the first time that is interested in you and your business, and you have no business cards to give when they ask for one.  If this is you, then why are you even at the event?! 

You should have business cards in your handbag, wallet, car door and anywhere else that is handy, you never know when you might bump in to someone.  If you do get caught without business cards, maybe your new order is stuck in the post....then make sure you get their card and send them your details by email when you get back to the office.

4. The handshake

A firm but gentle handshake is all that is required when you meet someone.

Guys, this isn't some way of proving your masculinity and strength, you don't need to squeeze the living daylights out of the person's hand, you should be aware of who you are meeting and adjust the firmness accordingly.

Ladies, be confident with your handshake, a limp and soft handshake doesn't set a great first impression.

A balance of the two will be just fine!

5.  Elevator Pitch

So you finally strike up the courage to approach someone new and you get chatting to them.  Then comes the obvious question, 'so what do you do?'  If you don't have your elevator pitch down to a tee to respond to this question, then get practising!  You need to leave them knowing exactly what you do, speak clearly and confident and finish by asking them the question back.

6. Listen

It's not all about you.  If you spend 15 minutes talking about yourself, and you haven't asked questions or shown any interest in them, then you have lost any chance of doing business by showing how much you don't care about them.  Nobody likes the person that only talks about themself!

7. Entering Conversations

You arrive to the event and the networking has already started, this can make it hard to break into conversations to introduce yourself.  If it is an event you attend regularly, look for people you have met before as a warmer way to start talking.  If you don't know anybody, look at the body language around the room.  Examples of groups you can go over to could be:

- A group of 3 people chatting in a circle, with an open gap for you to step into and say hi

- 2 people talking, with an opening for a third person to join

If you panic and aren't comfortable in networking situations then ask the event staff to introduce you to someone, tell them it is your first time and ask them to facilitate an introduction

An example of groups you shouldn't interrupt would be closed circles, so 3 people facing each other with no gap to enter, they're obviously having a closed conversation so find another opportunity.

8. Set yourself a challenge

Before you arrive, tell yourself how many cards you would be happy collecting at the event to follow up with afterwards.  This means once you are there, you can keep an eye on the time and make sure you are working the room generating leads you can follow up on.  But be careful not to set this number too high, you don't want to come across as the person that's there to collect cards and not engage properly! 

9. Have an exit strategy

We've all been to an event and ended up getting stuck with someone you just know you won't be able to do business with.  We want to remind you that it is ok to say, 'it's been lovely to meet you, there are a few other people I need to catch up with, so I will speak to you again later,' and of course, ask for a business card before you move on. You are giving your time to the event, so make sure you use it wisely and move on to meet more people.

10. Follow up

This is key, especially if you connect with someone, have a promising conversation or say you are going to send them something.  It doesn't give off a great first impression when you tell them you will send them some information, and then they never receive it! 

A quick tip for managing your follow up is to either mark the date and event on their business card, (but make sure you do this in the car and not in front of them, as that's a bit rude) or use elastic bands and keep the cards of people you meet at one event in a separate pile with a note so that you can follow up when you get round to it.








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