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It is widely acknowledged that networking is vital for all businesses. These days there are many opportunities for local business leaders to network with other local businesses and gain useful contacts.
While many extroverted people find networking quite enjoyable, there are many of us that find the process stressful and difficult, even after many years of this. We’re often asked by other businessmen how they can enjoy networking more, so here is a selection of our recommendations.
Go into the networking event with a clear purpose and a goal for that event. Whether you aim to arrange a business meeting with three potential clients, to collect 15 business cards or simply to touch base with an old client set yourself a target and stick to it.
If you have set a clear and well planned goal for your networking then often you will be able to leave after completing that goal. You could take 15 of your own business cards and say to yourself “I am only going to leave when I have handed out all 15 business cards” then you can leave knowing that you have done a good job.
There are a few tricks people use to remember names, the most commonly used method is to repeat their name when you learn it “Thank you Anita, how are you finding the networking event Anita?” and then make a mental association – “Anita drinks black coffee”.
This part can seem the most daunting, but is probably the easiest bit – prepare a small 10 second networking pitch that says why you’re there, what you do and who you are “Hi, I’m Simon, I run a successful marketing consultancy that specialises in the online sector”. The next thing is to listen to what the other person says and encourage them to speak by asking questions about their job, hobbies and their life in general. You will be remembered as someone that listens and cares.
You may have left the event with 15 business cards, handed yours out to a number of people and met a load of potential new clients. The next thing to do is to stay in touch with monthly emails or calls asking about them and their business – as well as showing interest, it keeps your business in their minds as well.
Follow these 6 simple steps and no matter how nervous you feel, your networking skills will appear natural, effective and – you never know – networking may even end up being something you enjoy!
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