I host and run a networking group for Mums who run their own businesses (in the Bristol and North Somerset area). We meet on the third Thursday of every month. I was looking through some files yesterday and I found some notes I had written after a meeting last October. I had arranged for the brilliant Gail Gibson (her business is True Expressions www.trueexpressions.co.uk) to speak at the meeting with the objective of helping us all ‘Network for Success’. Her words of wisdom reminded me of exactly how successful and rewarding effective networking can be.
Here’s my notes!
Effective networking requires participation and effort and, if done well, it will deliver real (and hopefully financial) results.
Remember not to SELL whilst networking as you’ll just give yourself a bad name. Any selling may come later. You are now networking only, nothing else. And if it turns out that you meet a prospective customer there and then, you’ve already opened the door to a sale by establishing a relationship.
If you can, arrive at meetings on time. Don’t wait for something to happen. Introduce yourself (wearing a big smile!) with enthusiasm to as many people as you can. You never know who might be a useful contact as just because their name badge says one thing, they might know lots of interesting people that need to know about you and your business! Focus on talking with one or possibly two people at a time and talk about THEIR business – not just yours.
Be one of the last to leave and if you felt you struck up a relationship with anyone, you could send them a short email to acknowledge anything significant talked about. DON’T be tempted to spam all attendees!
And then, the most important thing is to maintain your presence at the networking group (providing it suited you) as the more you go, the more you’ll get out of it. People want to do business with, and refer business to people they know, like and trust.
Thanks Gail for explaining to us the dos and don’ts of networking. If you want to find out more, I can recommend Gail’s book, ‘Making Connections’.