Networking is essential for any business, but for entrepreneurs and start-ups it can be especially important. Meeting new people expands your network to create new business opportunities, gain referrals, find new employees, generate ideas, open doors previously closed to you and keep you up-to-date with changes in the market. All of which are key to business success.
However, too often people make excuses. We’d probably all be lying if we said we’ve never felt daunted by the prospect of entering a room full of strangers. We’re also probably all guilty of spending at least one event speaking to our colleagues instead of all the new business prospects in the room.
So how can you overcome this fear and work the room effectively? Here are a few tips to get you started.
–Arrive early. Being fashionably late only means you’ll enter a room full of strangers already in full networking swing. Being first on the scene actually gives you more control.
–Read the room – Business networking specialist, Will Kintish, says there’s only ever six types of groups in the room. He recommends targeting people on their own, ‘open 2s’ and ‘open 3s’ as they are usually the most welcoming.
–Find common ground – Just as in social circles, the easiest way to strike up rapport is to find something you have in common. Remember you’re all in the room for a reason – the event may have a theme so ask about this, and if not go for something simple like ‘where have you come from today’.
–Be interested – Don’t go on about yourself – it’s boring. Instead, ask plenty of questions and engage with people. This also helps you quickly identify whether they’re the right person to talk to.
–Don’t be rude – But do put a stop to conversations that aren’t useful for your business. You’re always going to get caught in dead-end conversations at some point, but always be polite and respectful.
–Follow up – Whether it’s phone, email or LinkedIn, always follow up. After all, what’s the point in going through all this hard work if you’re not going to take the next step?
Networking doesn’t have to be scary – it can even be fun. At the end of the day, people buy from people. So if you’re looking for new business opportunities, it’s important you become adept at coming across as being at ease (even if you don’t feel it inside) with people you don’t know. Give yourself a pep-talk, remember these key rules and go and have some fun. And if it doesn’t go perfectly the first time? That’s ok, there’s always next time!
Posted by the Secret Businessman