Networking Tips

Thursday, March 17th, 2016

At the Chamber we run over 50 events each year and the focus of the majority of these events is networking.  It’s therefore not surprising that we sometimes forget how difficult and intimidating it can be the first time you walk into one of these events and are expected to ‘network’.  Even seasoned networkers forget the reasons they are there and miss out on making the most of their opportunities.

So, what is networking and how can you make it work for your business?  Here are my top tips:

 

WHAT IS NETWORKING?    

Networking is when people with a common interest come together to establish and develop mutually beneficial relationships

No selling mentioned

No one goes to a networking event with the intention of buying so why would you go to sell

Farming not Hunting

Flirting with a business focus

 

YOU ONLY GET OUT OF IT WHAT YOU PUT IN

  • Not a short term fix
  • Process of Know, Like and Trust
  • People Buy People
  • Your objective is to meet new people and strengthen your relationships with people you have already met
  • Your aim is to teach your network to sell on your behalf

 

PLANNING AND PREPARATION

  • Prepare your Introduction – the answer to “and what do you do?”

NOT  –  “I am a Business Manager for NatWest in Kingston with a portfolio of 150 medium sized businesses and specialise in the retail sector

BUT  –  “I am from NatWest and I help local businesses to grow by introducing them to a range of support including business finance”

AND WHAT DO YOU DO?

  • Find out who will be there, who do you need to speak to, who can introduce me
  • Make sure you arrive early
  • Make the right entrance – consider how people will perceive you –  Smart, Confident, Friendly?

 

NETWORKING ETIQUETTE & TIPS

  • They are all as scared as you are!
  • Be yourself
  • Make sufficient time to speak to people and listen to them. It is reasonable to assume that if you want people to refer business to you then they are looking for the same kindness from you.
  • Research some important contacts so that you can demonstrate you know something about them
  • Get people to talk about themselves first so you know how to frame what you say about you to suit them
  • Give examples of how you have helped other businesses. If you refer to real examples, it will give context to what you do and makes what you say more memorable
  • Traditionally I would have said; Leave your phone behind! But that’s unlikely these days so switch in onto silent and resist the temptation to check emails, messages or social media instead of making real face to face connections.
  • Know when and how to close a conversation

HAVE the confidence to know that you have done enough

EXCHANGE contact details / Make sure you agree a next step

POLITELY move on

 

POST NETWORKING EVENT

  • Suggest follow up meetings to learn more about each other
  • Consider whether you have any referrals you could give
  • Follow up promptly
  • Do not SPAM

 

By Jerry Irving, CEO of Kingston Chamber of Commerce

 

Members Tip:  If you have any comments, questions or useful advice about the above blog, please do comment below…..

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