24 May Is The Face Of Networking Changing?
When the pandemic hit last year most of us thought that online networking would become a short term solution or it wouldn’t work.
A year later and I’m loving networking online and I can’t see myself going back to face to face networking when these start to happen.
However as restrictions start to lift face to face networking events will restart.
Whether you are networking online or can’t wait to get back in a room with other people networking it’s such a huge part of any business.
I’ve been networking for as long as I can remember and it’s a big part of my business growth year on year. In fact, 50% of my business came from Networking last year the other 50% was through my social media channels.
There is a Networking event for every business and as they run pretty much every day of the week at various times you could Network every day of the week. Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
First, it’s finding the Networking event that suits you and your schedule.
You may find that breakfast meetings work best as you can then attend a Networking event first thing, some as early as 6.30am and not miss any part of the working day to run your business.
There are Networking events that run between school hours these are normally mid-morning or lunch ones.
If you struggle with Networking during the day then there are evening Networking events.
There is something for everyone and no excuses to start attending them.
With various different types of Networking events running I would recommend experimenting with various meetings over a few months and find what works for you as there are open meetings, lockout groups, mixed groups and ladies only Networking.
Some Networking groups require you to join as a member which entails you paying a monthly or annual membership and then a payment each time you attend or monthly fee.
Other Networking groups may be pay as you go which offer more flexibility and keep your overheads down perfect if you have just started your business.
There are also FREE Networking events. Look around as your social media network if they can recommend any Networking events and get booked on.
However, there are some things you need to bear in mind when it comes to Networking.
Don’t expect to just attend one event and have a flurry of new business and referrals come your way.
Networking takes time and it’s about building trust, relationships with the others attending and them getting to know you. People buy people.
In some cases, you may find that you need to be attending for between 3/6 months before you start seeing results. So don’t get despondent if nothing happens after a couple of months. However, if you are consistent and follow my Networking top tips then it will work for you and you will see your business start to grow.
- Look at what networking meetings are running local to you each month.
- If they are going to be face to face think about how far you are willing to travel to network.
- Put each meeting you would like to attend into your diary this way you are committing to them.
- If you have to book a ticket or reserve a space then get those booked and paid for. You are more likely to attend something we have paid for.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU BE NETWORKING?
- At least twice a month. Please remember the more meetings you attend the more time you are away from your business and of course you need to have the time to follow up. The more networking you do the more others will get to know you and what you do.
- I remember when I first started my business. I was told “Network your backside off for the next 6 months” I took this onboard and within 3 months it paid off.
- Be on time, It’s a great idea to get online 5/10 minutes before the event is due to start as computers can have a ind of their own and if they decide to reboot or update at least you won’t be signing in late to the event.
- If you are attending face to face events know where you are going before the meeting especially if it’s the first time you are attending or the venue changes regularly.
- Make sure people know who you are.
- For online events make sure your screen name is your name as you would have on your business card or on your social media platforms and add your business name or maybe your profession.
- If attending face to face events don’t forget your business cards with you. So that you don’t forget keep them in your car just in case as if you change coasts or bags for each event you may forget them. Plus don’t forget any flyers, brochures or advertising material you may have. Remember though these cost you money so if you leave them out on a table for people to help themselves remember to collect them at the end of the event. Take your diary, a notebook and not forgetting a pen. If you don’t use your phone to store everything.
ARRIVE ON TIME
- If you are someone who never gets there on time then put the time of the event into your diary at an earlier time. For example, if the meeting is due to start at 10am put in your diary that it starts at 9.50am that way you know even if you are fashionably late you will be arriving at the right time.
- Do the same for the ending time of the meeting, give yourself 10/15 minutes at the end so that you are not rushing to your next meeting, giving you time to chat with others without feeling rushed.
DRESS TO IMPRESS
- Remember this could be the first time that you are meeting those attending the event. Whether you are joining an online or face to face event you should dress to impress after all you only have 3 seconds to make an impression.
- If you are showing up online the top half matters. At the beginning of the pandemic, we could get away with wearing PJ’s and drinking wine instead of water during the meeting maybe not so much now.
- If you are attending face to face events are your shoes clean, wear something you feel comfortable in.
- Ladies think about your handbag, many network meetings offer drinks and if you’ve got to make a drink, hold a cup and saucer and then factor in a large handbag it can be a recipe for disaster.
- Over the shoulder bags, or something that will sit on your shoulder works best.
- Think about coats and jackets hats and gloves, and not to mention umbrellas how many have you left behind in previous events and had to go back to get them.
INTRODUCE YOURSELF TO OTHERS
- For many, this may mean you stepping out of your comfort zone. Build up the courage and speak to people. I’ve never been to a networking meeting where everyone hasn’t been welcoming and nobody bites. We’ve all been there! We’ve all been there.
- Introduce yourself by name, your company and briefly what you do and then pass them a business card if it’s in person. Don’t forget to ask the person who you are speaking to who they are and get their business card in return.
- Be mindful not to have a one-sided conversation use your mouth and ears in the proportion they are given.
- Don’t forget to Mingle, don’t just speak to just one person, you aren’t there to make a new best friend you are there to speak to as many people as you can and start building relationships.
WORK IN YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH
- What is your “Elevator Pitch”? It’s normally 45/60 seconds that you have to tell others who are attending the event who you are. This can be very daunting for a lot of people, don’t worry about it too much it’s not as scary as it sounds. Try not to overcomplicate it either.
- Think of just covering the basics. The more you do it the easier it becomes and wrote it down.
- Here are my top tips to get you started:
- Your name
- Your company name
- What is it you do
- Explain what you have to offer, what are you looking for, or a good news stories or maybe a testimonial.
- Finish with repeating your name and company.
- My biggest tip is don’t waffle and stick to your script.
- Most network meetings will provide you with a contact sheet that will have details of all those that are attending the meeting. This is great to make notes especially when others are sharing their elevator pitch.
SOCIAL MEDIA OR SHOULD I SAY SOCIAL NETWORKING
- Are you connecting with those that are at these events on your social media platforms?
- Remember that with networking events some of them are monthly and you may only meet those attending a few times over a year so by connecting with them online you can continue to build that relationship.
- Make sure that your social media profiles are all up to date and act like a business card for you. You can use my FREE profile checker here to ensure that yours are all set up correctly. https://keepingsocialsimpleplanners.co.uk/social-media-profile/
- And not forgetting following up as this is so important. Make sure you arrange 121’s with others as this can lead to recommendations and referrals.