Networking and Relationships
Networking is all about building relationships. It can be so easy to run head first into a social situation, and straight into the hard sell, especially if you’re eager to gain new business. However, it’s all about nurturing relationships and making a good first impression. Networking can be a huge first step into the business world, but once you’ve taken that initial plunge, you’ll find you won’t be able to stop!
There are a number of ways to network:-
- Business events – formal & informal (quite a number of networking events are free)
- Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google +
- Social gatherings – schools, shops, restaurants, holidays
Think about your aims:-
- To sell your business
- To create new contacts
- To meet new people
- To find suppliers or experts
Start with Local Networks
Find the area you want to networking in, both relevant to your of line of business and locality. It’s no use attending events in Liverpool, if you want most of your work in Manchester. Be specific and target groups in your area, initially.
Build Networking Blocks
Take baby steps, make introductions about yourself and who you are, how you found the event. Don’t go straight for the hard sell, it’s all about building those networking blocks. Offer suggestions to help someone else, rather than jumping feet first into what you need. You’ll find most people will reciprocate.
Have a daily dose of virtual social media networking – every little helps! Find those social media networking hours relevant to you – there’s a plethora of hashtag hours on Twitter, and some on Facebook too. Have a read of a guest post we did for our friends over at The Social Media Experts, for a list of hashtag hours.
Follow-up and Volunteer
Follow-up on your offer – don’t wait for people to come back to you. There may be a million reasons why they’ve not got in touch. Follow that email with a call, follow-up that call with a visit. Volunteer your time and expertise – you never know where the next opportunity awaits. Spending time at a charity event selling cakes, for example, may lead to introductions…
Further Tips and Advice
- Send articles/links to your targeted network, which proves that you have taken an active interest in their company.
- Arrive early to functions, allowing you time to settle in. Make eye contact and smile, it’ll put you at ease as well as everyone else.
- Make small talk, don’t pretend to be an expert in everything. By asking about someone else’s passion and business, you’re letting them do all the talking, allowing you to think of questions to ask back.
- Be patient, as contacts and opportunities don’t all come at once, it can take months to find the right circles and associates.
Hopefully, these suggestions will help you on your way to becoming a super-networker! We’d love to hear your tips!