Networking. The dreaded event that is considered a necessary evil to build those contacts and drive your business forward. As part of our on-going advice series, Jonathan Saunders, Senior Account Executive, explains how networking is the way to take your business to the next level.
People buy from people. It’s a universal truth in business and a client is more likely to use your services if they feel they can trust you and your brand.
Whether you’re B2B or B2C company, events are happening up and down the country on a regular basis. Whether you’re looking for informal breakfasts, formal business meet-ups, exhibitions or business clubs which mix all of the aforementioned together.
It’s not just about meeting potential customers and securing new business, however.
At networking events, we’ve met some incredibly handy contacts who have been able to introduce us to businesses that may require our services. Some have supported us by sharing their expert knowledge, and some we have worked with on a quid pro quo basis.
Networking is also the perfect place to put all of the hard work you’ve endured building your brand through your social media presence and press relations to the test.
Here are our tips for making the most of networking to support the growth of your business:
Don’t Be Shy
Even if this is your first time attending a business networking event, bite the bullet and speak to someone. You’re all there for the same reason and everyone had to start somewhere.
One tip is to get there early. It's very daunting to walk into a room where everyone is already talking to each other and to have the courage to introduce yourself to a group in the middle of a conversation.
If you get there first, you will have time to chat with the organisers about who you are and what you are looking for and they should help introduce you to the right people. Or if they're too busy then you are there for the next couple of people who are also daunted to come and chat to.
Explain who you are and what your business does and ask questions of whoever you’re meeting. Treat it like a first date. Show interest in whoever you’re speaking with and identify if there is anything you could offer in helping with. This shows you’re up for collaboration.
Do Your Research
Utilise social media to find out any hashtags or official feeds before you attend and make sure you interact with these by posting during the event.
Some networking has guest speakers so it’s great to get in the habit of tweeting along with anything you find interesting and liking other people’s tweets.
Networking events usually have an official account or hashtag that you can use to determine who will be attending. Use this to look up who you want to speak with. Sometimes it’s a great idea to interact with those people to let them know you’re going, and you are looking forward to meeting them.
Don’t Treat it Like a Hard Sell
No matter what your aims are for attending a networking event, don’t treat it like a sales visit. You’re there to build relationships, business comes later.
Treat whoever you’re speaking to like a friend. It’s never nice to be bombarded with sales patter. Ask what you can do to help them; you'll be more memorable. Ease yourself in and just have a chat first.
Get to know who they are and what they do. If it sounds like you may be able to help each other than swap those business cards.
This is quite possibly the most important part of any networking event. Make sure you follow up. No doubt you now have a pocket full of businesses cards and the people you speak to will also be stockpiling them.
Should you build a connection at the networking event and feel like you can benefit one another, it’s paramount that you follow up with these people.
My advice for the follow-up; is it must fall within 24 hours. It doesn’t need to be a phone call. A simple email will cement your memory in people’s minds and will allow you to build a strong business relationship. It's important to connect on LinkedIn as well, of course, to give that connection more longevity.
My final tip is to enjoy yourself. Networking is your opportunity to get face-to-face with the business community around you and to build your brand in person.
A brand isn’t just a logo and a name, it’s the people within your business and the personalities they possess that truly allow a business to shine.
Remember, not only does your company have a brand but you also have a personal brand. Let the two of them complement each other.
To recap my tips:
Publicity Seekers is a team of trained journalists who understand all aspects of communications from social to newspapers; TV to radio; podcasts to YouTube; trade journals to business pages. The company has been successfully building client reputations for the past 12 years.
For more information about Publicity Seekers go to www.publicityseekers.co.uk, email email@example.com or call 0845 226 91 26.
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