The weird and wonderful world of networking

This post is by Victoria Roberts

 

Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of networking.  If you’re a virgin networker, don’t be scared…I can gently show you the way.  If you’re a seasoned networker – bravo! I love it too.  If you’re of the tried and didn’t like variety…read on as well…you may be surprised.

After 15 years in the corporate world, I didn’t ‘get’ networking.  The only networking I had been to was the kind of scary ones where you have to be there at the crack of dawn week in week out, cant’ miss it and have to give referrals (“My Auntie Margaret needs her carpet cleaning” cue applause)or the informal ones by the Chamber of Commerce.  They were useless for me…as a woman, walking into a room full of pinstripes suits in a bar was bad enough, never mind trying to make conversation with strangers! Nope, I would stand in the corner with a couple of people I already knew, down my vino and run, which defeated the object.   I prefer some structure and some fun…for my bet, you can’t beat 4Networking (www.4networking.biz) though there are lots of fab networking groups all over.  Google networking in your area and get yourself to a few to try.  However it doesn’t matter who what or how the networking event is, there are some golden rules and some useful tips you need to know.

So for the virginal, tried and died and downright scared…here are my Top Ten Tips to get the most out of your networking:

  1. Do not expect instant sales.  Everyone avoids the salesperson with a gleam in their eye like a lapsed vegetarian at the bacon butty stand.

  2. You will naturally like people who like you.  This is good. Networking is about building relationships with people.  You wouldn’t refer business to someone you didn’t like, would you? Neither would they.

  3. Don’t sell TO the room but THROUGH the room.  Everyone there will know at least 10 contacts that would be useful to you. 

  4. Don’t thrust your business card at all and sundry.  Show interest and ask questions, ask for their business card first.  Before you know it there will be a plethora of cards in your sticky mitt.

  5. DO NOT SPAM! There is nothing worse than going to a networking event and then having your Inbox raped and pillaged within 24 hours.  A friendly, personal email to those people you felt you had something in common with or clicked with is acceptable.  Just.

  6. Don’t be a networking snob and think that small businesses wouldn’t be any good to you.  You’re a small business, right?!  Yeah.  Thought so.  Small businesses should stick together, work together and share contacts. Nuff said.

  7. Be nice.  The eccentric looking blokey in the t-shirt with 3 day stubble just may be the next Richard Branson. Really.

  8. Dress how you like to dress for work whether that be formal or downright casual.

  9. If it’s a night time do and there is a bar – don’t get drunk…and I am speaking from experience here.  You may make a BIG impression snogging 3 people then falling over, but not for the right reasons.  If you’re nervous, have one drink then switch to water. 

10.  BE YOURSELF.  People buy from people.

If you want any more info by all means email me victoria@starpsltd.co.uk. Don’t spam me though

Written by Victoria Roberts

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