We have all been there, that dreaded first business networking event. Where it feels like everyone knows each other and you are not sure where to start. Best tactic is to try to relax and smile – remember that it is worth it. You are not alone in having these feelings.
Networking is an invaluable way to create business opportunities, making contacts as well as receiving great support and inspiration for your business.
A networking event will give you an opportunity to receive direct feedback, if it is regarding your products/services or if you are a new start-up and want to test your company ideas on others. For us it has delivered more return on investment than any other tool.
Top tips to remember for any business networking event:
1. Arrive early
Arrive before it gets too busy. You will notice that it is quieter and calmer if you arrive early. It will then be easier to find a conversation partner, as people will not have settled into groups yet.
2. Business Cards
Bring plenty of business cards, it does not give a great impression if you have to scribble down your contact details on a piece of paper.
3.Set Clear Goals
What is the aim of the event? Have clear goals of what you want to get out of the event. It is also worth having a topic of conversation ready and make yourself interesting – strive to be memorable when meeting new people.
Don’t just talk about you and your business, remember to ask questions about other people and their businesses. Keep it fun and informal – it is not a sales pitch! Running a business, is all about marketing – it is about offering people what they want – not what you think they need.
Remember to smile, people are more likely to want to have a chat with someone that are looking happy and welcoming. Business networking is supposed to be a fun informal experience.
Always follow up with people that you have met at a networking event. This will show interest and make the person feel special. Remember that trust and relationships can take time and business opportunities might come in the form of recommendations.
There are several organisations that organise business networking events, such as British Chambers of Commerce – you can find your local group here.