Networking is defined as a process of interacting with other people, groups or organisations to exchange information, share ideas and resources as well as to develop mutually beneficial relationships. Business networking events can offer you an ultimate business to business experience and provide an opportunity to meet business leaders, decision makers, and entrepreneurs in a social and relaxed atmosphere, but most importantly it can help you to generate valuable business contacts and leads. A large number of academics and practitioners consider networking as a highly efficient and cost effective marketing method. You can achieve exceptionally positive results from the activity if you will apply these 9 ESSENTIAL TIPS:
1. PICK THE RIGHT EVENT
Carefully choose the events where you can meet people with the same/similar interests as well as prospective clients. Organisations consisting of professionals and business leaders, specific interest groups, networking groups and Chamber of Commerce are all great options.
2. ENSURE PROFESSIONAL APPEARANCE
Dress up appropriately for the occasion in order to create a positive first impression. Do not forget that you have 10 seconds to make a strong impression and establish yourself as a successful person.
3. BE POSITIVE
Bring along positive attitude, passion, enthusiasm and smile. People like to do business with happy and positive individuals.
4. COME PREPARED
Bring along your business cards that contain your business contact details such as phone number, email address and website details. Brochures, flyers or postcards are effective marketing materials that you can also distribute whilst networking. Do it in the light and natural manner, do not do the hard sell.
5. ENGAGE IN CONVERSATION WITH DIFFERENT PEOPLE
Talk to your acquaintances in order to strengthen your relationships, however focus on people who you have not met before, as it will help you to expand your network.
6. USE EFFECTIVE LISTENING SKILLS
Be attentive, listen carefully and ask questions. It will help you to obtain valuable information, identify common interests and intensify effective conversation.
7. MAINTAIN INTEGRITY
Do not pretend that you are bigger and better than you are, and definitely do not give unrealistic promises. Being honest and transparent will help you to build reputation and trust. Remember, people do business with those they trust.
8. GIVE TO RECEIVE
Focus on helping others rather than seeking help for yourself. It will create a positive effect, portray you as a strong person/business and eventually will gravitate people to you.
9. FOLLOW UP
Should you made a good exchange, do not hesitate to let the person know that you enjoyed meeting them. Identify the best way to stay in touch (phone, email, social media channels) and send a compliment in order to strengthen the connection. Networking is about developing mutually beneficial relationships; it requires proactive approach and patience.