‘Networking’ is a nineties word, and it is often shunned as an old-school business tactic, but if you’re not doing it, you’re missing out on opportunities.
Call it what you will; networking, schmoozing, relationship-building, client-impressing. However you refer to it or feel about it, it’s something you can benefit from if you’re trying to build your business. Networking is a means to build or strengthen professional relationships with current or potential clients to further your business goals. In a nutshell, it’s about meeting and greeting and making ‘business friends’ to support your growth and success.
Networking can be done very right, and very wrong, but there are a few tips of the trade you should always remember…
Always come prepared.
Business cards are loved by some and loathed by others, but when you’re in a room full of people having the same conversations, they’re the difference between an opportunity gained and an opportunity lost. No matter what kind of networking events you attend, it’s always best to come prepared with a business card or some sort of contact method on hand, so that a potential client or customer can follow up on your conversation if they want to.
Do a little research.
Regular networkers know the tricks of the trade, and they know how to ‘run the room’. For newbie networkers, it’s simple: do your research. Find out who’ll be attending the event, what businesses will be in the room, or who the most important people are – and gravitate towards them. Optimise your conversations, and don’t be shy. When you know who’s who, you can make the most of your time.
Follow up, follow up, follow up.
Networking events can be fast-paced and high powered, and you’ll often leave feeling inspired and full of ideas – but so does everyone else. When everyone is talking to everyone, it’s easy to forget names and conversations, and opportunities can easily be missed. Send a follow-up email the day after the event to keep the conversation going. Networking is not like dating and emailing the day after in this circumstance is a-ok.
Co-Working has networking built in.
The reality here is that Co-Working spaces are a very subconscious way to do all of this without actually needing to go out of your way to actually do it. Every day you’re rubbing shoulders with the right people and building invaluable relationships (even if not actually talking about or exchanging on what you can do for one another). So if you’re really having a hard time “networking” or you feel socially awkward going out of your way to make it all happen joining a co-working space is a nice way to ease into finding the right people to help you elevate.