Whether you are planning to dip your toe into the networking
world for the first time or perhaps already a regular on the event
circuit, it is vitally important that you make the best of the
opportunities to maximise your return.
With that in mind, here is a rundown of the top five most common mistakes that people make when networking and some tips about how to use each situation to your advantage.
To make the most of an event it is important to do a bit of
planning beforehand. Have a think about your goals and what
you want to achieve from the event. Are you looking for new
customers or collaboration partners or do you just want to build a
support network for your business? What kind of return on
investment are you looking for from your networking?
If the event involves presenting your business in some way, make sure that you have thought about what you want to say in a clear and concise way. It is important that you are able to get across your message in a manner that people can understand, think about the benefits that you offer rather than a list of features.
Also remember those business cards; nothing creates a bad impression like contact details scrawled on a scrap of paper.
Networking is about getting to know and trust people over the long term so avoid launching into your sales pitch at the first opportunity. Fight that urge to talk about yourself, and instead focus more on finding out about others and their challenges.
This should be avoided at all costs. It can come across as very rude and is guaranteed to put people's backs up. If two people are clearly in deep conversation, never barge in un-invited. It is very important to be aware of body language when attending events, look for the signals.
If you are feeling a bit nervous about an event it is all too easy to have that extra glass of wine to calm yourself. If you are keen to show yourself and your business in the best light possible then stick to the soft drinks.
Last of all, but potentially the biggest mistake you can
make. You've been to a great event and met lots of useful
contacts. If you don't bother to follow up with people you are
likely to miss out on any new opportunities that may lead from
it. Send an individual email following the event and connect
through LinkedIn. Don't be tempted to use it as a sales opportunity
or add them to your mailing list without permission. This could be
the start of a long and fruitful business relationship, don't mess
it up at this early stage.
FindNetworkingEvents.com is an online resource, listing over 3,000 upcoming business networking events, workshops, seminars and business shows across the UK.