10 Top Business Networking Tips

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Written by Luke Glassford

10 top business networking tips

It may be a cliche, but it remains true:

"People buy from people they know, like, and trust."

Even in today's digital age, hiding behind a computer screen is not always the most productive way to grow your business. Sometimes getting out there and meeting people will work wonders for your brand, even if it pushes you slightly out of your comfort zone.

Below we offer 10 tips to help you become better at business networking.

Why is networking important?

Before looking at how to succeed, it's essential to understand why networking with others is essential to business (and personal) growth.

Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, especially if you are a fledgling business, it is an inexpensive way to promote both you and your brand; to help highlight not only who you are but what is important to you.

For small businesses and start-ups, it is a way of getting noticed and demonstrating your expertise in a particular field while meeting both like-minded individuals and potential clients.

Once recognised as an authority in your industry, you will be seen as a trusted source of knowledge and will rapidly generate growth.

Owning your own business can also be both daunting and lonely at times, so to surround yourself with others either in a similar situation or who could potentially help you to grow, both professionally and personally, is a vital piece of the success puzzle as well.

So, how can you make the most of business networking events?

Here are 10 top tips for business networking...

1. Don’t limit yourself

Whether in-person or virtually, don’t limit yourself to the type of events you attend.

The modern world accommodates virtual events and that means  you are not limited to only networking with others within your local community. Therefore, look to mix up the events you attend. Make sure to participate in local events to help promote your presence, but also consider national and global events, conferences, and seminars.

Research the ones that will be best for your specific business needs. Are there other local businesses running events that you could benefit from? Has your regional council set up a coffee morning or business lunch that would be worth your while? Also, look to sign up for government-funded initiatives and social media networking events suggested to you because of your online activities.

If you decide to attend a conference or workshop, use this time effectively to network with others, whether at arranged events, during downtime, during your lunch break, or after-work social gatherings.

If you are new to networking and don't know where to begin, perhaps start by joining an online networking group that will arrange different activities and local meet-ups which are directly related to your interests.

MeetUp is a great way to find local events and groups in each city.

2. Go with a strategy in mind

There are two keys elements to this:

  1. What is your goal for this particular event? Are you looking to raise your profile, develop new skills or gain referrals for your business? Be clear about what you want and how you will achieve it.
  2. Research the event before attending. Who else will be there? Is a particular topic being discussed, and how can you impart your knowledge? Have they run previous events, and how successful were they?

It is essential to do your homework and not simply turn up hoping to gain something from it. Remember that this is valuable time and that you need to utilise it in a way that will benefit you.

3. First impressions count

Research suggests that we make our minds up about someone within the first 7 seconds of meeting them. From how someone dresses to how they carry themselves, without even realising it, we presume certain things about a person very quickly, and these initial thoughts are then difficult to change.

Therefore, dress to impress, learn the art of active listening and pay attention to the non-verbal signs you are communicating to others.

Likewise, learn to leave all negativity at the door. No one wants to talk to the negative nelly in the room, which will undoubtedly taint someone's first thoughts.

4. Master your elevator pitch

Whether you like it or not, you need to confidently stand out from the crowd when telling others about yourself and your business. Can you, therefore, explain in around 60 seconds what you are about and why people should buy into you?

Think about both your business and personal objectives; why are you there? Once you have the answer to this, you must devise a memorable way of explaining that to others.

At networking events, you always need to be ready to pitch yourself. It would help if you offered something unique, whether that's your skill set or a particular business concept.

5. Step outside your comfort zone

Believe it or not, most studies highlight that there are more introverts in the world than extroverts, which is surprising when you observe a networking event from afar.

Unfortunately, introverts need to climb out of their comfort zone at such events and refrain from hiding in the corner. This isn't always easy; therefore, if the thought of attending an event like this fills you with dread, it may be worthwhile seeking out a mentor. Mentors can help to develop your skill set and help you to navigate in a world where extroverts automatically stand out in the crowd.

6. Don't forget to follow up

Networking events are only successful if you continue to build the relationship afterwards.

Whether you email those you have spoken to or follow and interact with them on LinkedIn, make sure you continue to reach out to them. Over time the relationship will grow and could lead to some exciting business partnerships.

7. Share your knowledge

Networking is about demonstrating your strengths so that people buy into you. Therefore, it is essential to remember to share your wealth of knowledge freely at these gatherings.

Of course, no one likes a know-it-all, so any information shared needs to be relevant, but by concentrating on the needs of others at these forums, you may find people reaching out to you for future collaborations.

8. Business card etiquette is the key to success

Some will measure their success on the number of business cards they give out, but if you didn't share any knowledge or begin to build a relationship, the business card might go straight into the bin.

Learn to be more selective, only giving out your cards to those you have had a meaningful conversation with. It may sound counter-productive, but if you challenge yourself to hand out 20 cards, it means you need to have productive conversations with 20 people.

Likewise, before taking a business card, think about the WIIFM (What's In It For Me?) factor. For every business card collected, you need to consider ways to reach out to them again in the coming weeks. Therefore, only take a business card for those you consciously want to continue conversing with.

Through a strategy like this, you will begin building trust and a reputation for long-term relationship building.

9. Utilise your online presence

Networking is not a one-off. It doesn't stop and start with organised events, you need to continue to connect with people outside of these, and perhaps the easiest way to do so is online.

Whether you are a fan of Linkedin, Twitter, blogs, or other social media, remember to share articles, comment on what others have posted and continue to discuss important subjects to your business.

Through these platforms you can grow your network of value-adding contacts, developing your professional profile as a voice to be listened to in your designated industry or niche.

A word of warning here as well.

It is also essential to remove and refrain from posting anything on any social media platform that could damage your brand. You may only use Facebook for personal reasons, but you still need to consider what you share, as people will search and find this information.

10. Stay consistent

Networking doesn’t come easy for all and it can feel quite draining and unnatural, but it gets easier with practice. So keep going. Set a day or two aside weekly for some form of networking within your business community.

It is true what people say; it isn't always what you know but who you know.

Networking results in high quality work relationships, which equates to a level of fulfilment in your professional life. It often also results in hearing about new job opportunities first and finding those coveted clients because people want to work with others they know and trust.

Talk to us about how we can help your business grow:

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Written by

Luke Glassford

Marketing Director at Gambit Partners