Networking is a major buzzword in modern business, but for most people, they dread the thought of it. Much like when asked ‘tell us about yourself’ in an interview; people are happy to sell their products, but as soon as they have to sell themselves, they struggle. As the face of your business at a networking event, the ability to sell yourself is an important skill. We run our own networking events at Local Link Magazine, so we’ve put together a few pointers to push you in the right direction
Choose your events carefully. Networking can be a minefield, with so many mixers and events it can be hard to know where to start. From sector-specific events to large corporate networking events, find what networking events suit your business best, and what suits you best.
Don’t work the room. A networking event can seem like a mission to see how many people you can dish out a business card to. Chances are, if you haven’t had the chance to connect with someone, your business card will most likely end up in the bin. By taking the time to talk to a few people, you’ll make yourself more memorable, and in turn, you’ll be more likely to make a sale. If you really hit it off with someone, you may find yourself with a loyal customer.
Don’t plug to people, connect with people. When you look at networking for face-value, it can seem as if you must take any given moment to sell your business. It’s better to create connections with people and sell later; doing business with someone they know and trust. You’ll find throughout your conversation, they will identify something they’re missing from their business, that your business can provide. Your business should be something people need, rather than a business that needs people.
Listen more than you talk. Richard Branson famously said, ‘we have two ears and one mouth – so use them’. Be a listener and not a talker; not only will the person feel as if they are being heard, but you may receive in-person feedback that will help the way you market your business and sell your product or service.
Fake it until you make it. ‘Be yourself’ is the age-old advice when meeting new people, particularly in business. It’s true that you shouldn’t put your guard up or get too big for your boots. But for some people, networking can be a daunting task that takes a knock on your confidence. To knock those nerves out of the park: show up early, greet everyone you meet with a smile and feel confident, and soon enough you won’t have to fake the confidence, you’ll feel it.