14 May Top Tips For The First Time Networkers
If you’re here, that means you understand just how valuable networking can be. After all, for many people networking goes hand in hand with running a successful business. The relationships you can build can elevate your business to new levels, opening up new opportunities for success. And yet many of us dread walking into a room an introducing ourselves to a bunch of strangers. But don’t worry – it’s not as bad as it seems! And we have a few tips to help you navigate your first time networking.
Resist The Urge To Arrive Late
You might be tempted to rock up to the group a little bit later than the designated start time, hoping that no one will notice your entrance. This approach might give you the chance to ‘survey the scene’, but it won’t make networking with other business owners any easier. Instead, resist that urge and make sure you’re one of the first people to turn up. Now, you will notice that it’s a lot calmer and quieter, and the regular networkers haven’t settled into groups yet. This makes it easier for you to find a conversation partner and ease yourself into the swing of things.
Ask Easy Questions
Whatever you do, don’t wait around the edges of the room and wait for someone to come to you. If you want to be successful at networking, you need to be a bit proactive. To get the conversation started, simply walk up to a person or a group and say: ‘may I join you?’ or ‘what brings you to this event?’ And then listen intently to their replies. If you’re not a natural extrovert, then you’re probably a very good listener already, which is a key skill in networking an excellent way to get to know people.
Leave The Sales Pitch At The Door
Remember, networking is all about building relationships that can lead to business. It’s not about selling your services to everyone in the room. So when you’re circulating, keep the conversation light and informal, and leave the hard sell at the door. If someone is genuinely interested in hearing more about your service, arrange to meet them one on one at a later date. Remember – the idea when you’re networking is to get the conversation started and get to know people, their interests and what drives them to do what they do – not to treat them as a room full of prospects.
Share Your Passion
Passion and enthusiasm are infectious. People respond well to it, and if you let it show when you’re networking, you can win people over very quickly. Leave a lasting impression by telling a story about why you were inspired to create your company, instead of just telling people what the benefits of your service are. Talking about what you enjoy prompts others to do the same and creates a memorable two-way conversation.
It’s a really simple, if often overlooked, rule for engaging with people – smile! By smiling, you’ll actually calm your own nerves while coming across as warm and inviting to others in the room. People will be more inclined to strike up a conversation with you if you have a smile on your face, instead of a face like thunder.
Don’t Hijack The Conversation
We all know one of those people who never seem to stop talking. During networking, some people tend to dominate the conversation a lot more, particularly if they’re nervous or it’s their first time there. But this technique often puts people off, since they feel like they can’t get a word in, and when they do it’s not really being listened to. If in doubt – remember the fact that you have two ears and one mouth, and you should always use them in proportion.
Remember To Follow Up
The biggest mistake even seasoned networkers make is forgetting to follow up once the meeting is over. So you might have some great conversations and make some fantastic connections, but if you don’t keep the conversations going, it’s all been a wasted effort. Networking is where the conversation begins, not where it ends. So when you get back to the office, go through the business cards and work out who you want to keep in touch with, and then reach out! It could be something as simple as sending a LinkedIn request, yet it makes all the difference when looking at the return on your time investment in networking.
At Reading Central, we believe that good networking can be the making of any business. While our members meet every week, we also welcome visitors and new members on a regular basis, providing you with ample opportunities to meet new people and grow your business in a friendly environment. If you’re interested in coming along to see what it’s all about, all you need to do is register here. We look forward to seeing you!