Whilst attending an event recently, our conversation turned to how important it is to make time to get to know people at general business networking events; one of the most effective ways to gain new clients and build trust.
The key to success is knowing how to achieve optimum results without being too aggressive and understanding the golden rules of etiquette when attending any networking event:
1. Be prepared. Arrive on time having previewed the guest list and identified two or three people you would like to meet during the event.
2. Introduce yourself. Be brave and always extend your hand and clearly introduce yourself with your first and last name and the name of your business – don’t rely on your name badge; people rarely remember written details but will be more likely to remember a confident handshake and a happy face!
3. Rehearse your intro. Briefly describe what you do, avoid long descriptions with an obvious sales pitch, instead make the tone friendly and informative.
4. Enter group conversations sensitively. Don’t barge in and take over! Approach and stand quietly for a moment or two, wait for a break in the conversation or for someone to make eye contact with you.
5. Make meaningful business card exchanges. Only exchange cards when it will be of benefit to both of you, either if they ask for one or you offer assistance with something they say they want or need.
6. Politely exit conversations. Avoid monopolizing people’s time and from being monopolized by someone else. After a reasonable time the key is to move away from the conversation by excusing yourself politely; this sometimes happens naturally when others join your group or simply say ‘Do excuse me, I’ve enjoyed speaking to you.’
7. Always introduce yourself to fellow table guests. Before taking your seat, make a point of introducing yourself to each of your fellow table guests before taking your seat.
8. Follow-up with new acquaintances. This is the most important element to successful networking; showing you are interested in the people you meet. A personal note to every person you’ve met within 24-48 hours, including calling anyone who has helped give you leads and referrals.
9. Gain permission before sharing contact details. Check they are OK for you to share their details with someone you think they might be able to help. Providing an endorsement or introducing them as an expert in their field to someone looking for their help is key in demonstrating you are someone they can trust.
10. Don’t give up at the first hurdle. Time is always a challenge, and it’s too easy to give up when it doesn’t look like you’re getting anywhere with people you have built up a relationship with or feel a potential with. Continue to exchange knowledge which will add value and help to forge a strong mutual connection, but know when it’s time to step away if you can’t add value straight away.
Here’s a list of some current networking organisations in Brighton & Sussex>>>
If you’d like some help with your own marketing Tweet me or call me on 01273 772033 to arrange an initial chat over a coffee!