Networking is like being your own personal billboard! I'm not suggesting you find a crazy outfit and stand on the side of the road with a sign (but if you do that I'd love to get a photo).
But, it's about you building relationships and talking about what you do. It's great for building business contacts, finding new clients, making connections in your industry and promoting your business.
It's a great marketing tool for businesses with a tight budget. Networking events give you direct access to a room full of influential people in your industry.
Simply by talking to these people you are essentially advertising to potential customers.
Here are my top networking dos & don'ts:
- Have a descriptive 'personal brand statement' prepared.
- Have loads of business cards, however use them with respect.
- Make a goal of handing out (say) 5 cards or at least have genuine conversations with 5 people.
- Go up and introduce yourself to people and start conversations with them.
- Keep moving around the room; don't just speak to one person.
- Write the date and event on business cards you collect so you can remember when and where you met people.
- Go with your friend or you will spend time catching up rather than meeting other people.
- Stare around the room when you talking with people.
- Try to do a hard sell; networking is about getting to know people.
- Say you will follow up with people and not bother.
Networking is one of the most cost-effective ways to increasing profile and acquiring new business and reaching hundreds of potential clients. So get out there and start networking!