Networking can inject some much needed lifeblood into your business. At Chain Digital we often go networking on behalf of our clients to boost their profile. Networking isn’t for everyone, but one thing I can guaruntee is that it will help grow your business no matter what industry you are in. As an experienced networker I have picked up lots of tips over the years and here are my top 8. I have tried to be a bit different to the classic networking tips post and used my own photos where possible to avoid horrible looking stock images, so forgive the grainyness please.
No 1: Make friends with the event organiser –
This is probably the most valuable networking tip of the lot. Who in the room is going to be the the most networked person there? More often than not it will be the person organising the event. It is after all their job to network with the networkers and ensure guests come back as regulars. Who better to promote your business than someone who has it in their own interests for you to succeed and therefore help grow the group. I have just been lucky enough to secure a large four figure sponsorship for a client from one of the worlds largest companies by using this method. I didn’t even meet the sponsor, it was all down to the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce Membership Exec who did the networking for me because I attend his events on a regular basis. Thank you Tim Major if you ever read this and big thank you to Simon Rigby from the Blandford Business Club for being another supporter.
No 2: Stand out from the crowd –
I recently attended a smart event at Cowdray Park to watch the Gold Cup and sent this photo (above) to a group of friends on Whatts App. Can you get what the first response was?
“I hope you remembered your blue shirt Jim.”
As funny as it sounds, it is pretty obvious that if I wanted to remember any of the males in the photo, I certainly couldn’t do it by what shirt they were wearing. When prepping for an event, why not consider your wardrobe. There is so much you can do without looking silly. A coloured Tie (if you still wear one) it gives everyone a chance to come and speak to you for a reason, the perfect ice breaker. Ladies, your options are endless from hat to shoes, wear something that will generate interest and start the conversation. Who said it had to be a business conversation.
No 3: Mix up the type of networking event you attend –
Attending the same old breakfast networking event week in week out can get a little bit dull and make conversation hard with the same group of people. So why not branch out and look for events that take place away from a business environment. Just last week I was invited to watch the Polo at Cowdray Park and the week before that to play cricket with Andrew Strauss by a client of ours. In no part down to my cricketing skills this was to get me networking in front of prospects and giving us a shared eperience to talk about. The Polo networking started with instruction on the rules of Polo and showing us how to hit the ball properly. Yes, we nearly took each others teeth and knee caps out but it led to a shared experience (See – No: 6 Take the Tour) that could be talked about all day.
No 4: Be the Speaker –
90% of networking events have some form of presentation. Do you have a proposition that you can turn into something interesting that people want to hear about. It might be knowledge of your industry, legal know how or just a good annecdote. But the best way to be remembered and get new business from networking is to be the one at the front delivering a talk of some kind. It may end up costing you some money to sponsor the event but if the group are you target audience then it is a no brainer.
No 5: Take the group photos –
At a lot of networking events there are multiple photo opportunities yet not many people jump in to offer their own camera. Next time this happens and you see a group photo opportunity at a networking event then pull out your own camera. Why? Because you can then be the one to share the photo with everyone else on your own social media channels. This gives you a few bonuses, you control the conversation online, you can tag people and get their contact details if they want the photo. This is like point 6, it gives you common ground, breaking the ice and creating a point of mutual reference.
No 6: Always take the tour –
If there is a tour of the business or venue on offer, always say yes. Sometimes the hardest thing about networking is to break the ice or get beyond a hello and who are you? If you take the tour, then you have something in common with others and can share the exprience and your thoughts. The tour may also be given by the business owner, giving you the chance to get to know them personally and ask whatever you want.
No 7: Be yourself and have fun –
The whole point of networking is to build relationships with people that will become mutually beneficial to you both. Yes, we all want more sales but as the saying goes:
People buy from People.
By building a network of like minded people you can then build trust which results in referals. No one is going to recomend you if you are just selling yourself and your products. They will recomend you if you are interesting, interested in them and good company. They want their own network to be happy with the referral and that you will provide them with a good service.
No 8: Body Language –
I am only including this because of the photograph I found in my files of Rupert crossing his arms. Body language is not often thought of as a key to networking but it can be key. Without a word being spoken you can draw someone in to a conversation or exclude them completly. Fold your arms and you have gone defensive, others amy begin to mimic you and before you know it you have created a hedge of physical barriers to conversation. Smile and copy the pose of the person you stand next to and you create a safe zone feeling of mutual respect from where you can talk about anything.
Next time you go networking try it, even in the pub. Copy the pose of the person standing next to you by pointing your shoes in the same direction as theirs and imitate how they hold their arms. See what happens. Alternatively fold your arms when talking to someone and watch what happens. I bet they do the same.
Chain Digital is a Sales and Marketing Agency. Networking is part of what we do and not just to promote ourselves. We regularly attend networking events on the behalf of our clients when they don’t have the time or skill set to make the most out of it. If you want to see what we can do in terms of promoting your business then why not give us a ring to find out more…