1. Dress code- This is important despite whether your instincts are telling you to opt for that pink cardigan or ‘no tie’ look – power dressing is extremely important & in this image obsessed world- like it or not first impressions count for a lot- dress as though you are attending an important business meeting and your inner confidence with shine through.
2. Business Cards- NEVER attend a networking event without them –if you are a start –up business & don’t have any- GET SOME, if you have ran out- REPLENISH, if you are rebranding-THE OLD ONES WILL DO FOR NOW!
3. Hand Shake- Make it strong, go in from the top to show confidence and make eye contact as you do it. There is nothing worse than receiving a weak, lack lustre hand shake, but equally don’t squeeze the life out of someone to the point that they have to comment on how hard that hand shake just was…
4. Build Relationships- People so often forget that networking is a much more drawn out process of generating business. It is rare you are ever going to ‘land’ a deal with someone you have only just met- it is about ‘building relationships’ and trust with that person before they will even consider you as a potential supplier- REMEMBER- People buy from people so the more honest, professional and appealing you are as a character, the more likely you are to be remembered when that person needs the service you provide.
5. Know Your Market- Only you know what your target demographic is for your business so aim for network events that you know are going to contain some of those industries relevant to you and ensure that you speak to them.
6. Prepare- Most network event organisers will send through an attendees list prior to the event itself, so ensure you look through it and make a bee-line for those who will be relevant to you to chat to initially, you can always ask the organiser to introduce you to someone in particular if you think that will help.
7. Have a Secret Target- Set yourself a goal for example “I am going to have three good conversations” it is about quality not quantity, the best networker was never the one who scanned the room trying to get as many business cards as they could in one hour- it is not a race- Be the tortoise not the hare.
8. Enjoy it- What is the point in taking time out of your busy life –out of choice, if you are not going to enjoy it? Choose events that you think you will enjoy and make the most out of the ones that didn’t quite meet your expectations, you don’t have to go back, but the point is you tried.
9. Follow Up- ALWAYS follow up with the contacts you made at a network event, even if you don’t think that they were relevant to you at the time- you never know who they know or what they may be able to help with in the future.
10. My final tip is to follow my 9 tips – Having been in the world of networking now for around ten years, I like to think I have picked up a few fail safe tips and do’s and don’ts, so I hope you find them of some use and well if you don’t then join me at one of my Business Network Socials and I will try to prove you wrong!
Fiona Duncan, RSViP
Next Business Network Social: Thursday 25th July at Galleries of Justice, Nottingham.