Attending annual conferences, industry-specific tradeshows, business breakfast mornings, lectures, craft fairs and similar events is a great way to develop your professional network of contacts and grow your business. Meeting the right people and promoting your company through word of mouth can have extremely beneficial results, so here are five important things to remember when networking.
- Always be prepared
With specially organised networking events taking place throughout the year, there are many opportunities to meet with like-minded people and attract new clientele – the trick is to be prepared. If you’re looking to win more business, for instance, don’t show up at a tradeshow without leaflets or brochures as these tell people more about what you do and remember to look into rollup banner printing, as well-branded, portable marketing materials will help you stand out from the crowd.
- Be professional at all times
Whether you’re enjoying a happy hour drink with people in your field or attending a more formal conference, remember to be professional at all times. How you behave and act will have a direct impact on your company, so try to leave a good impression wherever you may go. Basic networking etiquette includes not talking in a negative way about other businesses or employees, always dressing smartly and looking the part and distributing marketing literature of a high standard.
- Be present when talking to people
One of the best things you can do at a networking event is to be present and enthusiastic when talking to people, giving them your full attention throughout the entire exchange. This means not looking at your phone, not handing out business cards to others while talking to a prospective client, not shovelling a sandwich into your mouth during key mingling hours and not staring off into space wishing you were somewhere else as people will pick up on your disinterest.
Of course, business-orientated events can be time-consuming and hectic, so make sure you take enough staff with you to free up much-needed time for proper conversation.
- Focus on giving and getting
At any networking event, your main goal will most probably be to spread the word about your company and what you do on a daily basis – with the overall hope of hitting targets and boosting your annual turnover. That said, don’t just focus on getting, but try to give where possible too. Networking is all about making contact with the relevant people, but it’s also important to put people in contact with others too, as businesses will certainly remember you if you manage to help them out – and hopefully luck will come your way somewhere along the line.
- Be positive and confident
If you’re a start-up attending the same events as well-established firms, it can be easy to feel like a small fish in a very big pond. That said, it’s crucial to be positive and confident in everything you do, especially if you want your brand to stand up against the bigger names. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there and if you don’t believe in what you’re doing, you can bet your bottom dollar that others won’t believe in you. So, have faith in your products or business model, do your organisation proud and check out these life hacks that’ll help you survive any networking event.
While networking comes easy to some, it is a job in itself for others. At the end of the day it’s all about first impressions, presentation and forming strong business bonds with people that’ll hopefully drive your business upwards.