It is important to network, but it is crucial to influence those you are networking with. It isn’t a luxury or an extra, it is part of your job and, therefore it should be taken seriously.
Find networking events.com surveyed 430 networkers around the UK to find out why they attend networking events. 39% of these networkers claim that networking benefits their social life, 25% say it builds confidence whilst 85% say it raises their company’s profile.
Philip shares his tips…
Do your research
Making a good impression and being memorable (for the right reasons!) will take some practise. It’s all about confidence, you need to know what you are talking about and you need a persona that will make the people around want to talk to you. Before the event you will have some sort of idea about who is going to be there. Do some ‘social’ research on LinkedIn, familiarize yourself with your future contact’s faces and names, it will make them feel important and it will make you look professional. With practise, eventually confidence and a higher self-esteem will come and everything that you need to talk about will slip off the tip of your tongue. Conversation will start to flow and people will begin to approach you.
Take a deep breath
Whilst you are still learning, the best thing to do is take that deep breath everyone talks about and think about what you’re going to say, then go for it! Try not to act as if you are shy or cautious and always remember that the other person has no idea what you are going to talk about. They don’t know what you’ve prepared or whether you’re just ‘winging’ it. You shouldn’t feel awkward when approaching your business peers at a networking event as that is why you’re all there!
Don’t put off making an important connection
There will be some introductions that can wait, but there will be introductions that should be done as soon as possible (remember, the market can be very a competitive place), so be the first to make a mark. Don’t set yourself a time limit when talking to others for the first time. Whilst you will want to make the most of the opportunity to network with as many contacts as possible, it is important to recognise that fewer quality connections could be a greater asset to you and your business.
Tailor your behaivour
At the event it’s more than likely that there’s going to be alcohol, so make sure you know your limit, otherwise I would suggest you drive! There is nothing more unprofessional than a drunk, especially at networking events, it just looks as if you have taken advantage of the free bar (…which probably is the case!) Remember that you are not only representing yourself but also your business and colleagues.
Use social media
For those who are shy and don’t like to make an impression in person, social media is a fantastic way to build brand awareness and make those beneficial connections. LinkedIn is an effective platform to access new contacts, whether they be a journalist or a CEO. On LinkedIn you have a personal bio/profile which you can add your skills, your business, and your past employment (Don’t worry it is optional! If you don’t want to admit you worked at Burger King for that summer before university)!
Follow up contacts
Finally, make sure that you don’t leave the networking at the event! Take the opportunity to follow up your meeting with a phone call or e mail. Use the event as a platform for future successful business collaborations.