Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Work that Room !! How do I do REAL Business Networking??


Networking’s not just about throwing your business card in everybody’s face and asking for business. I think I’ve set this before in these pages that you’re not going to become a multi-millionaire by attending freebie lunches and printing a gazillion pretty business cards. And really, just how important is networking in the age of the Internet?

Well actually, face-to-face networking is still here and used by many as their biggest source of revenue-generating activity. Now is the time to polish up your skills, say yes to a couple of those invites a month then go build yourself a VALUABLE & professional network of contacts!

But before you do that….

• Suck-it and see. Check-out an organisation before you pay out to join

Contact the Chamber of Commerce. Find trade and professional associations in your industry or in industries you provide product or services for. Most professions and industries have trade bodies and associations. Google them. Weigh up all the options of joining these…join the one that will give you more “bang for your bucks” is always the best rule

• Ignore what your Mum said and talk to strangers!

You are here to make friends, so be nice. Smile. Shake hands. Ask about them. Be interested in what they are saying. Don’t swap cards unless there’s a real benefit for you….you’ll end up with a huge pile of cards that will just sit on your desk and jeopardise another rainforest!

• If there’s a speaker, listen, learn and follow-up!

See what you can pick up on that you can use. Perhaps a follow-up note to the with a thank you note to the organisation’s boss? When you send an email to some of the people you met, mentioning the event in your email. Consider sending a card through the post. A simple “It was great to meet you on Wednesday at the Chamber breakfast!” and, you can include your card!

• Get your hands dirty!

Go to meetings. Write articles for their blogs and newsletters, volunteer and help with fundraising or event planning. Ask one of their Chiefs how you can be of service to them. They will have plenty of ideas and love volunteers!

• For goodness sake, talk to the other guests!

Don’t sit with the same people over & over again. Mix it up, meet new people…you’re there to work, not socialise!

• Mix and Match.

Try other groups and events. You’ll probably meet a whole bunch of new people…..and they’ll use a different caterer so the food might be better !!!

• Be patient!

It can take time to see if a new contact might generate business for you. Some will become good friends and most will be new business acquaintances but don’t expect them to write you a cheque straight away. Speed-dating & Changing Table events are great because you have to fine-tume your story to make a real and instant impact.

Most important thing to remember, people will make a decision about you within the few seconds of meeting you so make those seconds count! Golden Rule of Networking- Look Good, Talk Better!

Next post……getting stuck in a lift with Sir Richard Branson!!

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