“I hate networking.” I hear this a lot from ladies and gentlemen I meet when I tell them what I do for a living.
“It makes me feel uncomfortable, like I have to put on an act.”
“Who wants to walk into a room with a bunch of strangers in there?”
Well that’s exactly how I felt when I began networking. How nerve-racking!
I’ve been networking for nine years now and totally love it, which is why I set up my own groups! I think that in today’s world, networking is a necessity for SMEs.
Building and nurturing professional relationships lead to those all-important opportunities we all need to keep our businesses running.
Luckily for me, I really enjoyed networking once I started and learnt the art of how to do it successfully fairly early on. I love helping people make the most of their networking and seeing their businesses go from strength to strength, so I thought I’d share my top tips with you, so you too can enjoy the benefits networking brings.
- Prepare – Prepare what you’ll wear, how many business cards to take with you, what promotional material you’ll take (if any) and of course, your one-minute pitch. If you’re not a confident networker, write out what you want to say and practice in front of your partner or a mirror.
- Your pitch – Your pitch should consist of your name and what you do, how you do it and your call to action. You should always keep to that one-minute, as people won’t be able to take in much more information and are likely to lose interest in what you’re saying.
- Think beyond the room – The people you are talking to have a network of people that you don’t even know. They could know your ideal customer, so always be open minded and give everyone a chance.
- Follow up – If you have promised to give someone a contact, always remember to send it to them with a follow-up email as soon as possible. If someone wants a quote or more information about what you do, the same applies; follow up as soon as you can. The easiest way to discourage people from passing you anymore referrals is to forget or not bother to email or call.
- Don’t be nervous – I know this is easier said than done. Just remember, everyone there is in the same position as you and are therefore likely be very supportive. Making a checklist the night before might help to calm your nerves. Your checklist should include:
- Putting your business cards and leaflets in your bag, or your details for the online chat prepared.
- Your one-minute pitch written, and maybe printed, and practised
- Making sure you know where the venue is and have planned the route and how long it will take.
- Make sure you are ready to login on time if your meeting is online.
- A big smile ready to be greeted!
However you feel about networking, I suggest you give it a go. I can assure you you’ll be glad you did afterwards!
Founder and Owner
Busy Women Networking
For BWN Kent, contact Barbara Luna on 07944 69 33 74