Do you find networking difficult? Do you want to build positive relationships with potential customers and network confidently in order to convey yourself (and your business) as professional and capable?
You are not alone. After 2 years of lockdowns and socially distanced networking, in-person events can seem like an alien concept, so here are our top 5 tips to networking confidently this Winter!
Practice your pitch – during most networking events, you’ll need to be able to concisely explain who you are and what it is that you do, ideally in under a minute. What is the most important information that people need to know? How can you help the people in the room with the services that you provide? Don’t forget that your pitch may need to vary from event to event depending on the kind of potential customers who are there, as their needs and issues can vary depending on their demographic characteristics.
Be open to new connections – it might feel as though there’s no-one in the room who would be a good fit for you and your business, but you never know until you speak to them! Even if they aren’t the right fit for you, by chatting positively with other networking business owners, you may be able to make helpful recommendations to them about tools and other businesses who could support them, helping to build a positive rapport with others. Just because someone isn’t quite ready to be a customer now, it doesn’t mean that they won’t need your services in the future!
Be positive – it’s so important to make the right first impression. Evidence suggest that people build a picture of you and your personality within just 7 seconds of meeting you, with some suggesting that traits like trustworthiness are conveyed in less than a second (source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/serenitygibbons/2018/06/19/you-have-7-seconds-to-make-a-first-impression-heres-how-to-succeed/) so appearing positive and professional right from the outset can really help set you up for a good relationship with fellow networkers.
Find the right community for you – not every networking group suits every individual. We’ve all been to a networking event that’s been plain terrible – it’s a fact of life! – whether that’s the coffee, the structure of the meeting, the presence of predominantly competing businesses in the room… but not every event is like that. Ask around for recommendations and don’t feel compelled to sign up for full membership prior to attending (or only visiting once), as networking events can be expensive and will therefore be a waste of your time, energy and money if you find yourself a fully-fledged member of a community that you don’t feel you can thrive in.
Be clear about the services that you offer – Make sure that you have clearly defined products and/or services and pricing ready for networking events (and for the benefit of potential customers who get in touch with you). When there is limited time available to chat, you can’t go into detail about the infinite range of services you can provide – focus on your primary offerings and then offer to send more information out if the potential customer is interested in it. Many of us can only digest a couple of pieces of new information in a busy and noisy networking environment, so make them memorable and succinct!
Networking can be stressful, but it’s a great way of getting your name out there in front of other professionals who could benefit from the products and services that you provide.