Love it or loath it, networking is an important way of creating contacts and partners for your business. Here's how to break the ice.
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Networking. It’s a scary word isn’t it. The thought of walking into a room of strangers, approaching one at random and discussing business isn’t a particularly attractive concept. Unfortunately, if you’re in business, you’re going to find yourself at a networking event at some point.
Sounds obvious right? Well it’s something that many people forget to do. Being successful at these events relies on your planning. Each event is an investment of time and effort, don’t waste it by going to something unsuitable. Think carefully about what you want to achieve. What are you looking for?
A new partner?
You should tailor your approach to complement your goals. This is all about giving you the best chance to succeed, don’t rush it.
Build connections online first
Walking up to random people and talking about business doesn’t sound like fun. In fact, it can be very awkward and intimidating. The trick to overcoming this obstacle starts with building connections online before the event. There’s usually a bit of a buzz on social media beforehand.
It's a good idea to warm up online first
Get involved and be vocal. Start conversations with influencers online to skip the introductions and small talk. Remember that you’re not the only one who’s feeling nervous, being visible online beforehand will help make you more approachable to others.
Maximise your opportunities during the event
When you get to the event, don’t just talk about yourself. This is the most undesirable way to network. Listen to what others have to say first and only talk about yourself when it’s relevant.
Having said this, it’s important to always have an elevator pitch up your sleeve. You never know who you might meet. Stay visible during the event by using the designated event hashtags on social media.
Follow up afterwards
It’s important to ensure you follow up with your action points as soon as you can. Email, call and connect with those you met on social media. Stay on the radar of influencers by writing a blog about the event. Finally, evaluate the success of the event. Learn from it and begin planning the next one.