There is an etiquette behind business networking, but with this advice you will be able to make the most out of your networking, and benefit your business.
Tip 1 – Choose the Right Networking Event
The networking events that you have to pay for to go and attend their meetings are the ones that have the best quality of people because the people there that have all invested money in order to attend.
Decision makers as well as people that are higher up in the organizations are generally the ones in attendance, which is ideal because they can help you get referrals from with other decision-makers within their personal network.
I would say as a general rule, the more money that you invest to attend the networking event or group the better chance you’re going to get a getting top quality business from it.
Tip 2 – Dress to Impress
First impressions are really important because when you go networking because people are going to judge you based on the way that you look.
Try to think about what your dress and grooming says about you and how you would like to be perceived.
If you turn up scruffy or inappropriately dressed for the occasion (especially if you are underdressed), the people at the event may not take you seriously because you don’t look like you are there to do business.
On the other hand, if you dress nicely, you can be endearing and build trust within people without even having to speak!
Tip 3 – Ask Questions
Your objective whilst you’re in there to get referrals that is the purpose of going networking it’s not to try and get business directly whilst you’re at the networking events. To do this you can ask questions, it’s a great way of finding out about people’s business and then they’ll ask you questions in return and you can both see how you can help each other get referrals and get more business and who you might know that can help them and vice versa.
You are both there to help each other with your businesses, so if you initiate the conversation by listening to them and asking questions, the other person will be really appreciative and will want to help you out.
Tip 4 – Do Not Pitch
Do not pitch at a networking event! Trying to sell is such a rookie mistake and we see it happen all the time. They get carried away when talking about their business and go into a sales pitch – this is not good networking practice.
Your objective is to get referrals and build your network like it was mentioned in tip 3.
It may be a beginner’s mistake but it is super vital you practice talking about your business without trying to make a sale, because if you go into a sales pitch with the people at the networking event, you might not get invited back!
Tip 5 – Work the Room
When you walk into a room full of people you don’t know, you can tend to cling to the first person you get to know, or perhaps you know somebody in the room and chatting to them the whole night feels safe.
It’s difficult to push yourself out of your comfort zone, but it is the best thing to do is to try and meet as many people as possible. This will give you the opportunity to make the most out of the event by building as many relationships as possible, getting referrals and lots of contacts.
This also works vise-versa, people might try to cling to you so developing the skill of politely excusing yourself from conversations will definitely be useful!
Tip 6 – Practice Your Story
When you meet somebody at a networking event the first thing that they’re going to ask you is what you do and the way you answer is really important.
A lot of networking events that you go to will give you the opportunity to do a 30-second pitch. This pitch is all about your story; remember WHY, WHO, HOW – WHY do you do what you do, WHO you help, and HOW you help them.
Rehearsing what you want to say beforehand will really help, because when the time arrives, you will be calm, collected, and most importantly, professional.
Tip 7 – Follow Up
When you go to a networking event quite often you’ll get given the details of all the people in the room or you will come back with a load of business cards in your pocket. Whilst you are at the event try to get some one-to-one meetings with the like-minded people who are also there to see whether they can help you or you can help them.
If you’re if you’re savvy on LinkedIn you can actually do a search for people that are in your area using the LinkedIn app and that means that everybody at the networking event who’s got on LinkedIn will be able to connect with you.
After the event follow up with the people you’ve connected with, preferably as soon as possible.
We’re all human, and sometimes we can be forgetful, so following up with people will remind them of the conversation you had at the event, and then you can both hand over the referrals and build your relationship with them.
What you’re looking for is if you can offer them referrals and if they can offer you referrals because a referral is a warm lead and we want as many warm leads as we can get.