Many people are nervous of networking at first. "What if no one talks to me?" "What if I trip over my words?" "What if I have to stand up and say something in front of everyone". However, with some simple tips you can ace your next networking event. And with Harrogate Live, one of the friendliest events on the networking calendar, coming up next week, it's a timely subject.
Here are five key tips:
1. Business Cards
Take more business cards than you think you will need. Honestly, you will give out lots of cards, way more than you expected to. People will talk to you and will be interested in your business.
2. Relax and Breathe.
I've been to lots of networking events and I've never yet been bitten by anyone. Someone has always talked to me. I've never fallen over, or spilled my drink on anyone (though there may be a first time for that). There will always be someone, usually several someone's, in the room who are just as nervous as you are. Head for them and introduce yourself, particularly if they are on their own. If you can't see anyone who is obviously on their own, ask the organiser to introduce you to someone.
3. Two Ears, One Mouth
People like to talk about themselves so if you are very nervous, start by asking the other person what they do. You can then ask questions about the detail until you feel comfortable. They will ask you about what you do and you can then tell them briefly, what you do, who you help and what problem you solve.
4. Problems and Solutions.
People network to solve problems; The problem of getting more clients, and the problem of getting more support. If you can clearly articulate the problem you can solve for the person, or make them believe they have a problem that only you can resolve, then you are half way there. However, networking is very rarely the place for a sales pitch. Save that one for later. Possibly much later.
5. Contact Points.
On average, it takes 8 - 12 contacts to make a sale. That could be meeting several times at networking, an email or two, messages on LinkedIn, a recommendation from a friend for your services. There are countless ways you can hit those contact points. At networking meetings you are building know, like and trust. It's a step on the journey, not necessarily the destination.