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In today’s business world, it’s all about networking. Whether you have your own business or you’re representing your organisation, it pays to understand how to network successfully. Here Sylvia Baldock, regional director of women in business group the Athena Network, gives her tips.
Networking groups often send out an expected attendee list before the meeting. Take time to pinpoint who you might want to connect with beforehand and do your research on their business so you can have a professional and targeted conversation with them.
Print out the list and take with you to each meeting so you can write notes next to the names.
During an Open Networking session aim to speak to at least five different people. Listening is key! Take an interest in what they have to say even if you cannot see a direct benefit. You never know what or who you might need in the future.
Follow through promptly on referrals that you are given and connections you have promised. Appearing efficient and professional goes a long way in business.
If you receive a referral from a fellow networker: Don’t forget to thank them and give details on how useful it was. You’ll find they will be much more likely to refer again. In turn, help other businesses wherever you can. It will be remembered.
Give people a choice of how they would like to contact you. Everyone has different styles.
If people prefer communicating by phone, they will be much less likely to follow up if only an email address is given and vice versa.
Make sure you are clear about what is unique about your business. You will constantly be asked about why and how you differ from any other person in your industry and you want to be remembered for all the right reasons.
Make sure your business card really represents you well. Make it memorable and a good tip is to leave some space in the design for people receiving your card to jot down notes as an aid memoir.
Avoid the hard sell. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to speak to everyone and rushing round handing out your business cards and flyers – you won’t achieve anything and it will make people avoid you in future.
Networking is all about finding the people you want to meet up with on a 1-2-1 basis to explore mutually beneficial opportunities.
Be remembered by being creative and get people talking about you for all the right reasons. It’s interesting that the more you get someone to talk about themselves and their business, the more likely they are to warm to you!
Don’t go into business robot mode. When talking about yourself and your business it is very easy to say the same things again and again. Be wary as others can spot it, especially likeminded business people. Tell people about the new things that are happening in your workplace. You’ll appear much more innovative and enthusiastic about your work.
Network when you are busy – waiting until your pipeline dries up will make you seem desperate, people who are networking from a position of abundance exude an aura of success which is magnetic and leads to much greater success.
Sylvia Baldock has set up eight successful lunchtime networking groups for business women in Buckinghamshire and Berkshire, as well as two more informal Cappuccino Connections groups. Sylvia’s success as Regional Director at The Athena Network has led to her taking on an additional role as National Sales Director responsible for the company’s growth in the UK.