Networking for Newbies – My top 5 tips.
I have recently launched my business so have really upped my networking game. It’s something I have always enjoyed doing and never really thought of as being a barrier but really understood it for the awesome opportunity that it is. However, what has become clear to me is that not many other people feel the same. I have seen from either being in the room or from people in the Facebook or LinkedIn communities I have joined that networking is a subject of discomfort, a step into the unknown and something that people really dislike.
Well what a bloody shame, people are missing out on great opportunities because of a little fear. So, here are my top tips. There are some obvious ones missing but this is aiming to get you into the room and started!
1 Have a plan.
I have a plan for networking, a strategy now but when I was first networking, I just had a plan per session. I would think about who I wanted to meet, why, and how I would get chatting to them. So, ask yourself,
What people do I want to meet? Is it someone to inspire you, someone to learn from, advice, a service? I always look at my business and what it needs at that point then think about the events I have planned what might I find there, who might I meet.
You need to make sure these contribute to your overall goals. I find this plan makes sure that I network CONSISTENTLY.
2 Don’t focus on sales.
Its about connections, relationships, who is in the room and more importantly who they know. I don’t have use for a personal trainer now but if I met one, I have a lot of friends who are interested in fitness, and some great groups that I could recommend to them.
I have also found useful connections at networking in terms of businesses that I have a need for in both personal and business life, such as a printer for my new business cards, a social media trainer to help me up my LinkedIn game and some cottage industries that have helped me solve some gift buying issues!
But also, as a self-employed person who works from home most of the time it’s nice to get out, go to a new venue and meet people!
3 Follow up.
My networking strategy is to follow up with 2 people from each networking event. This can cover a range follow up though it is very rarely to ‘sell’ to them. Usually I follow up with people who I feel a connection with, they have an interesting business, I know someone else who I would like to introduce them to. Or I may follow up because they offer something, I know I, or someone else I know, will need to use.
4 Try a few.
It’s important to find a group that fits, and then stick to one or two that fit and be consistent. Don’t only go when you are selling, need more clients or have a new service or offer. Also, once you have picked a few that you like, that you feel benefit you then stick with those. What I look for is something that offers more than just networking, so some structure (but not too formal) and then some guest speakers or a bit of development is always a winner for me! Anyone in the North West I highly recommend the Colony Networking events- give them a google!
5 Fake it till you make it.
Honestly, get there and just be how you want to be and one day it will come naturally. This will sound ridiculous but just trust me and go for it! You will only have to fake it for a while and then you will find yourself just doing it, you will just know what blurb works for you, the best way to introduce yourself, the way you target your ideal connection etc. And you won’t even notice it happening it will just happen.
Do you struggle with networking? Or do you have any more tips you would like to share? Sign up below for more blogs, newsletters and special offers (I promise not to spam you!).