5 Tips To Help You Network Like A Pro
Last week, we sent Business Development Manager Dannielle Harris and Marketing Executive Tori Wastnedge to The Business Show at Olympia, London. They met with small business owners, dreamers thinking about starting up a business in the new year, seasoned professionals and sales people.
After spending two days circulating, speed networking and chatting to people on the stand, they each came back having learned a lot about what they did and didn’t already know about the art of networking. Here are their five top tips to help you network like a pro.
Take your business cards
This sounds obvious. But after putting in the time and effort to meet someone new, spark their interest and kick off what could be the start of a beautiful business relationship, you’ll require some way of keeping in touch afterwards.
So many people at The Business Show simply didn’t come prepared. Either they didn’t have business cards yet because they were still just thinking about starting up, or they ran out of cards before the end of the day. This meant that when they met with people they thought they could help or who could help them, they had no way of quickly and easily passing on their contact details which will definitely have hindered their experiences at the show.
Ask not what they can do for you, but what you can do for them
Networking can be a surreal way to meet people. It’s a big room full of people all with the sole intention of growing or improving their business in some way. They may be aiming to sell, build partnerships, find solutions or just see what else they could be missing. But what they are absolutely not there to do is hear about what you want and why you are there.
Ask the people you are talking to what their goals are. Have a conversation. See if there’s an opportunity to help them. Share your past experiences and offer to make introductions. This is the sort of relationship building that costs nothing but could be worth a lot.
It’s diversity, not quantity
You should not be preoccupied by the size of your network. If all the people you know work in one industry, you may as well only know one person.
By focusing on the diversity of your contacts, both in age, experience and expertise, the reach of your network will stretch further. In turn, you will become a more valuable contact to other people. Why limit your options?
Write everything down
How many business cards can you collect at one exhibition in one day? Ten? Twenty? A hundred? Because of the nature of networking, everyone you talk to will slip you their card. You might say to yourself, “That was a really interesting conversation, I’ll definitely remember them.” But when you’ve had hundreds of interesting conversations all day, you simply won’t be able to remember them all. And if you can’t remember them, that makes them useless.
You have just wasted an entire day.
When you take someone’s card, before slipping it into your wallet, make a note about them. If you shared a joke or common interest, jot it on their card. That way, when you start making contact with everyone, you will be able to personalise your messages which will endear you to your new network.
What is the point in spending the time, money and effort at these networking events if you’re just going to act like you didn’t go? Every conversation not followed up is a contact wasted. You took their card for a reason, so make sure you act on it. It might be time-consuming, but schedule time ahead to take a morning and email the people you met.
Be sure to make contact within a week of meeting them. This lets them know you were interested and ensures you’re still top of mind when you reach out to them.