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5 steps to get the most out of networking

by Alison Bradford

Post image for 5 steps to get the most out of networking

Are you doing face to face networking?

I know that as a busy business owner it can be hard to get to networking events.

Using social media to network can be great as you can fit it around your other commitments and do it as and when.

However, if you’re not combining this with some face to face networking then you are missing out.

As well as helping to spread the word and create more awareness about your business, face to face networking is a fantastic way to build up your own support network.

Why do you need a support network? These are the people who will recommend fantastic suppliers to you when you need something, will refer customers to you and will be there for you when you are struggling or having a bad day and need some reassurance.

In my experience, when people avoid face to face networking they are usually feeling nervous – nervous about what to expect, nervous about standing up and telling people what they do, nervous about selling.

Here’s my 5 step process for getting over the nerves and getting the most out of networking:

  1. Find the right groups for you. Research what”s happening in your local area, ask for some recommendations and go and try some out. You’ll find that different groups can have a very different vibe about them so don’t be put off if you go to one and don’t enjoy it. It just means it’s not the right grop for you.
  2. Set clear objectives – what do you want to get from networking? Don’t go along with the objective of signing up some new customers. Instead look at networking as an opportunity to meet other business people, learn from them, and see how you can help them.
  3. Be prepared – think about who’s going to be at the meeting and what you want to convey. Think about what clothes you will be wearing and what image you want to portray. And of course prepare the dreaded 60 second speech! If you’re not sure what to say, have a look at step 3 in my free report ‘5 steps to more customers’. Most importantly, remember that most people in the group are also feeling nervous and probably not listening to you as they are thinking about what they are going to say. The best interactions you have will be those smaller group chats over coffee.
  4. Follow up – give out your business cards by all means but it’s better to make sure you get the business cards of anyone who interests you. Ask them if they want to meet up for coffee to find out more about them. Connect with them on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. Once you’ve started the relationship, follow up and stay in touch.
  5. Be a giver – if there’s one thing that you take from this post, let it be this – you are not going to a networking event to sell. You are going to meet some interesting people who you can learn from and whom you may be able to help in some way. Be prepared to show how you can help them and offer them some value in some way. I believe that we get back what we give, so be willing to buy the products and services of people that you meet at networking. Only stuff that gives you some value of course, but it’s a great way to meet people who you can outsource to or recommend on to your wider network.

I would love to hear about your experiences of networking, any stories you have or any useful tips to share. Just leave me a comment below.

If you want some help finding a group local to you just let me know – I come across lots from all over the UK from my own networking!

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Alison Bradford

Alison Bradford is a business coach who works with smart, ambitious business owners to get clarity about how they can grow their business and increase profit. Sign up here to learn 6 easy ways you can boost profit in your business today.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Tracey Nixon December 9, 2013 at 7:43 pm

They are not listening to my 60 seconds pitch????? lol I may say something very random next time then and see if there is a response 😉

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Alison Bradford December 12, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Afraid so! ‘Less is more’ is often the trick to getting attention in the 60 seconds. Most people try and cram in too much and end up speaking quickly. Try speaking slowly and inserting a pause – that often gets attention.

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