Some people swear by it, others dread it, but networking is an essential tool for business. Here are a few tips to help you network effectively and enjoy doing so.
Networking is a state of mind
Networking is not an event or a social media web site - it is an attitude. Networking is all about being open to meeting new people, making connections and discovering new things. It can take place anywhere; in a formal networking environment, at the tennis club, at a charity event, in the pub or on line. In my experience, people who embrace this attitude in their businesses tend to be more successful than those that don’t.
Networking is not just about selling
If you only think about networking as a selling opportunity then you are missing the point. The connections you make today may result in a sale tomorrow, next month or next year. Equally, they may provide you with a new supplier, a great idea for your business, your next employee or maybe just a friendly chat. All of these are valuable.
Choose your networking events wisely
It is important to select the networking events and activities that work for you. Be prepared to try out different groups to see which kind of things you enjoy most. If the more obvious networking clubs and events are not for you, look further afield and be creative; consider volunteering to join a Board of Governors at the local school or as a Trustee for a charity, for example. Don’t waste time going to events that you find boring or uninspiring.
Relax & enjoy!
Be an enthusiastic ambassador for your business, but don’t be pushy. Show interest in others as well as talking about your own offering. Exchange business cards and follow up the next day with a friendly email or Linked In request as appropriate to establish the connection. Most of all, relax and enjoy!