When you’re starting out as an entrepreneur, developing relationships with the right people can have a lasting impact on your business. In this article, we look at 10 practical tips for making the most of networking opportunities.
1. Get There Early
Make sure you know all details about the venue, car parking arrangements etc beforehand, and make it a point to arrive in good time. If you are nervous there may be a temptation to be late, but arriving early offers you the chance to talk to people while the room is quieter and others are not yet in 'conversation groups'.
2. Ask and Listen
When approaching a group, ask ‘May I join you?’ Also enquire why the others are here, and listen closely. It may help to remember that everyone there has had a first time at such an event.
3. Get to the Point
Time is of the essence at a crowded venue. Hone your introduction to take no more than 20 seconds, imagining you are in a lift between floors! In this time you should be able to give people your name, business name, where it is based and what you cover, and your personal specialisation. End with a question to open up the floor to others.
4. Build Real Relationships
It is a mistake to rush in with a hard sell. Networking is about building relationships, and you do not want to put people off by going in too strong. You want them to enjoy your company and like the idea of doing business with you.
Do show enthusiasm for your product or service. You can introduce the topic and then encourage others in the group to share their success stories. Ideally nobody will hog the limelight, and other entrepreneurs’ stories could give you valuable ideas.
6. Make Yourself Useful
Attempt to help others before you ask for help yourself. You may have an idea which could benefit someone. Sometimes helping others can be as simple as recommending a book to them. If you are perceived as a helpful person, more and more people would want to do business with you.
7. Remember Where You Are
Be aware of local customs. While it can be useful to jot down relevant information on the back of business cards, in some parts of the world, like in certain parts of Asia and Russia, this would be construed as bad manners.
8. Be Selective
Be selective in handing your business card out. Try to receive more than you give and do not disseminate your cards scatter-shot style.
9. Set a Goal
It is good to go to conferences as face to face interaction is often more appealing than e-mail. Set yourself the goal of approaching ten people you don’t know at each event.
10. Follow Up
If you have had a good interaction, ask the best way to stay in touch. Some like e-mails, while others prefer social networks. Get in touch within 48 hours, and reference something to recall yourself to your contact.
Thanks to Champion Accountants Manchester for providing this post.