Business networking events are a fantastic way to make new connections, interact with other business owners and to also look for new avenues of business. Networking has been a solid staple of business owners and sales professionals alike for decades and that simply proves that it does work.
Plus, let’s face it, you also normally get
offered some great food and coffee too!
It is important that business networking is taken seriously, and you use the time to your advantage. I still experience, and witness so many people networking in the wrong ways. Perhaps ‘wrong’ is not the right word to use here, because I guess there is no wrong or right way to business network. However, there are so many people I see and talk to whom network ineffectively.
We all want to make the best of our networking time so that we can develop relationships and create strong networks.
Here are my top three tips to help you to business network effectively.
Work the Room
At any business event, you have the chance to mingle and chat with business owners of many shapes and sizes. You also get the chance to start conversations with people that could prove beneficial to your business; either as a new supplier, or as a new client or customer. With this in mind, don’t get stuck talking to people that you know very well, and you are familiar with.
This happens all too often. You see someone in the crowd that you know and feeling either anxious or nervous to approach new people you go over and strike conversation. Before you know it, business owners start to filter away and the networking event is over. You have missed your chance to set up new connections.
So, do you very best to mix and mingle with
people you have never laid eyes on before. Sure, do go and speak to the people
you already know as this will further develop business relationships. But break
away and mingle with new connections.
You could even try setting yourself a target on the amount of conversations you have at an event, or the amount of business cars you can collect.
Be social. Work the room. Converse with others!
Believe me; there is nothing more boring than entering a conversation with someone and being spoken to for 15 minutes about their business without having a chance to get a word in edge ways.
It can be very tempting when we meet new business people to waffle on about what we do, how amazing we are, and why we are so great. Trust me, the person you have just met does not really care too much about all of that.
Instead, be a person of value. Ask
questions, see how you can help or support that business owner. Is there anyone
you can introduce the other to? Do you have a connection that can support the
person in front of you? Can you help them fix the issue they have been having
with their bookkeeping system? Or
perhaps, by asking meaningful questions, you can distinguish pain points that
your business offerings can help to solve?
Always listen more than you talk! You will always open up more doors this way that will allow you to walk into.
But don’t forget to be willing to run through your elevator pitch and look to connect with the person you are talking to.
Always Follow Up
After every networking event, be sure to send introductory emails to everyone you spoke with. Using the business cards you have collected, send a simple introductory email that helps to develop the business relationship further.
It does not have to be a long email; a simple few lines thanking them for their time, how you enjoyed the conversation and how you look forward to chatting with them sooner can suffice.
Do not copy and paste a general message either. Make them personal. Mention things you both spoke about. Show the connection that you care!
But, a word of warning! Do not start trying to pitch or sell anything to your connection in the first email. It can be really off putting! Sure, if your connection has shown a strong interest in what you offer then email them and look to set up a secondary meeting or if they have requested it, send over some information and prices etc. But, do not send an email pitching what you offer in this first email. You will only push your new connection away and may damage the relationship in the long term.
Keep it friendly. Keep it open. And keep it personal!
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