How many of you, like me, have wasted time “working the room” giving and receiving the gift of the ceremonial business card? Then what? Nothing!
Here are some simple tips for more successful ventures into the world of networking:
- find out who is attending, if you can identify people who may have shared business interests, then seek them out and spend productive time learning about what they do, and investigate any potentially beneficial collaboration which may be possible;
- when approached by someone who asks you what you do, don’t spend 10 minutes boring them to death, (we all love to tell people about what we do) give them a 60 second soundbite then ask them what they do;
- be acquainted with the host(ess) as if they recognise and talk to you, others will be interested in you, as you “must be in the know” – ever heard of the moths around a flame;
- enjoy the delectable offerings, nibbles are very nice and oh the red is a very good choice, but try not to drop food down your front or spill red wine on yourself, and please not on others – little of what is tasty is tasteful a lot can be disastrous;
- don’t try to dominate conversations, remember what all good trainers have ever taught us on moderately interesting training courses, you have one mouth and two ears, use them proportionately;
- don’t try and tell jokes, be witty but reserved, not “ever heard the one about the idiot who thought he/she could amuse everyone in the room?” No. Well make sure it isn’t you..!
- remember why you are there – to listen, engage and hopefully mutually benefit from your avuncular manner;
- share positive experiences you’ve gained from like events, and ask your fellow delegate to share theirs;
- ask what issues they find most challenging in their business (of course) relating to the services or products your business offers; “Oh dear did your payroll provider let you down, I’m so sorry, just so happens I also run a payroll business, how potentially convenient for us both…”
- celebrate together the opportunity which may exist to collaboratively work together to jointly succeed.
- All of this is good, but clinch it with arranging that follow up over a coffee, or lunch with wine-ing and dining, depending on your pocket &/or vice.
There are also equally useful alternative methods of networking and realising useful business connections. I attend a weekly business breakfast hosted by Business Referral Xchange (BRX) and other events run by local government sponsored groups, plus my professional body the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development) meetings. These are great forums, and apart from anything else you get to meet different people from different environments, which is part of life’s rich tapestry (did I really say that, it sound so trite, so apologies to all before anyone is sick).
However, whatever you decide to do, it is all about how you make those connections, and about how you follow up with them. People may give you leads or you may find them yourself, but the real success of networking is in broadening your knowledge, enjoying learning about what others do, and if appropriate doing business.
Azureus can introduce you to a number of networks, and also provide guidance as to how best make your commercial impact at these meetings. Hope you liked the tongue in cheek humour, but that is also what networking is about.