Business networking is the tried and tested process of establishing mutually beneficial relationships with other business people and potential customers. It works on the simple concept of Know- Like -Trust. Kalimex offer some tips when it comes to business networking.
The more people that know what you do and like you, the more they’ll use you, trust you and, recommend you. And with so many networking organisations in the UK today including 4N and BNI there’ll be one close to you. If you’ve not yet tried networking you’re missing out on cultivating a rich seam of new business.
That said, many people have fears around networking, the most common ones being:
- I might run out of things to say
- What if I’m left standing on my own looking like Billy no mates?
- I might blank in my 60 second presentation.
These fears evaporate the more you network. And it pays to remember the main benefit of networking. Effective networkers say that 90% of their new business is achieved through networking and word of mouth referals. Networking is an incredibly cost effective way to build your business. And it’s enjoyable. Over breakfast or lunch you get to talk about your business in an informal but focused setting. It’s enjoyable and productive.
Here are a few tips on making business networking work for your business.
Visit as many networking events as possible, then whittle down to the ones you feel will help you grow your business. Don’t join the first group you go to. And don’t join immediately on a visitor’s day – find out how many signed up members the group has. Can you see yourself getting business from these members and, can you see yourself recommending them to your contacts? Networking is a two way thing.
How to take the plunge
- Prepare mentally – why are you going to this event? What will you talk about?
- Practice what you’re going to say beforehand. Can you bring props to show what you do and generate interest? How can you make your 60 second presentations memorable and interesting?
- Be positive! Enthusiasm is like a virus. You don’t have to be a polished pro when presenting if you’re genuinely enthusiastic.
- Look professional. First impressions count.
- Make sure you’re armed with business cards and marketing literature.
When you get there
- Adopt an open body posture and make eye contact early.
- Wait for an opportunity to speak and follow the flow – don’t dive in with a self introduction.
- Apply yourself wholeheartedly to the conversation. Look for ways to connect not to sell to people.
- Wait to be invited to shake hands and introduce yourself.
- Show an active, genuine interest in other people.
5 handy conversation starters
- ‘Hi I’m Tom from TJ Mechanics in Sheffield what do you do?’
- ‘How long have you been attending this networking group?’
- ‘What’s your line of business?’
- ‘How are you finding current business conditions?’
- ‘Do you visit any other networking organisations?’
Finally, be patient. It takes a little time for people to get to know you and feel comfortable in recommending you. Commit to the process and you’ll reap the rewards.