We are all looking for more clients right?
An often misunderstood marketing tool is business networking. It has earned a bit of a bad reputation in recent years, but on the whole it’s a positive and proactive way to get you and your company name out there with people you most likely wouldn’t have met otherwise. Human nature means people are inquisitive about new businesses and want to learn more – it isn’t always about the people in the room but how many people they know. Here are our 8 Golden Rules of Business Networking to enable you to get the best out of networking meetings.
- Be Open – Both in your selection of networking groups to attend and your approach when you are there. There is nothing more frustrating than people arriving on time then carefully checking their phone through the meeting, avoiding eye contact and hoping they don’t bump into any one! If you have made the effort to find a Business Network, got up early, pushed yourself to go along, then when you’re there make the most of it! Open up, smile and engage with the people there. The likelihood is lots of other business people feel exactly the same as you and when you’re the new kid on the block it’s always a great conversation starter too. Remember you are there to promote yourself and your business, so make sure you are looking for and open to approach and conversation.
- Dress Appropriately – It may seem obvious but I have seen some bizarre attire at business networking events! I always follow the rule you can’t be overdressed but you can be underdressed, so always wear smart business attire, shirt and tie for men as an example is hardly ever wrong. Arriving in jeans and t-shirt with trainers will not really work unless you are looking to make it a point of conversation and ‘all part of the plan’. As a rule your attire needs to fit with your business profile and also make others feel comfortable engaging you in conversation.
- Ask Questions – Everyone loves to talk about themselves and their business, without fail. So ask questions and listen, make it your personal goal to find three people and learn about their businesses. There is nothing more endearing than someone who is interested in what you do, what you enjoy and what you are saying. It is often amazing what you have in common with other businesses and can even lead to great insights that you may not have considered already. When the tables are turned remember not to simply answer all the questions without asking about the other person too; it should be a mutual and engaging process for everyone concerned!
- Humour,Humility & Honesty – For some people this will come naturally, for others may be not. Try to add some humour and indeed plenty of humility into the conversation – nothing false but perhaps displaying some of your natural personality as you talk. Remember people can always sense a false or forced conversation. You no doubt enjoy humour in the office, so why not enjoy that with people in business networks? Obviously remember to keep within appropriate boundaries but you will find humour can go a long way. Humility and honesty are always endearing and can show people you are a good reliable person to work with as a potential supplier. It sounds simple because it is, but so often people forget to be themselves.
- Always Carry Business Cards – Something that has stood the test of time regardless of the apps on your phone is business cards. This is your miniature advert that will introduce you to whoever you are talking to and leave a lasting reminder of who you are. Carry them everywhere and don’t buy cheap. Easy for me to say as a printer but people know when you have ordered ‘Free’ business cards online, they are instantly recognisable and you don’t want people making assumptions about your business “buying cheap”. In fact ask us about our business networking starter kit! Business cards can remain on desks, in pockets and in day planners for weeks and months to come. You need to have them at the ready at ALL times!
- Prepare a Summary – Always have a 60 second summary of you and your business and what it does prepared and with you. Most groups have this opportunity for everyone in the room to give a brief talk about their company. What should you say? KISS! Keep It Stupidly Simple…. Your Name, Company Name, What you do, Where you are based, What you are looking for, then close with Name and Company name with preferably your tag line. It is as simple as that, but easily forgotten if you are put on the spot!
- Carry a brochure – You can talk as much as you like but leaving someone, or everyone at the event, a mini brochure will ensure a lasting tangible memory of you and your company. The brochure should reflect and expand upon your summary of services to provide more information and make them inquisitive to find out more about whether your services are something they are looking for. Arrive early and leave a brochure on every chair, refer to it in your talk – connect it to your website via clickable paper or QR code.
- Carry a roll up banner – How many people take a roll up banner? Not many… ask first but wouldn’t it be great if you are the person with a 2m high banner detailing what you do, who you are and how you can help? First impressions count and this is an ideal opportunity to make a great one.
If you would like to know more or indeed like some marketing support for your business, just fill in your name and email below and we can talk to you more about our networking starter pack along with ideas on how you can market your business.