It’s often said that people buy into people, not businesses. The new friend you connect with at the gym, the fellow dog walker who turns out be an excellent contact and the owner of your favourite local bakery, who offers to cater your meetings at a discount – these are important and useful connections.
But how can you become a brilliant networker and secure valuable, lasting contacts at events without spending a fortune?
Here are our top 10 tips to making a brilliant impression…
- Be selective
Only attend business events suitable to your industry and your sector. If you start attending events that aren’t relevant you’ll find you could be wasting your time and won’ be fully invested in connecting with these people. Whether they’re conferences, casual networking evenings or exhibitions, make sure the events are relevant or…
- Hold your own event
Inviting people to come along to a networking event at your premises has some distinct business benefits. Firstly, you can invite exactly the people you want to meet and secondly, you can set out your office or business to showcase your products and services in the very best light.
- Be purposeful
When you arrive at an event there will be networking opportunities, so have a quick think about why you’re networking. Do you want to increase your client base, access advice, meet a mentor, uncover new opportunities, or something else? Having a defined purpose will help you stay fully focussed and come away with the contacts your really need.
- Know your stuff
It’s vital that when you approach potential new clients, investors or partners you’re fully informed of every aspect of your business and can answer even the most detailed questions. A first impression is very important and no one will invest in someone who doesn’t know their own products, so it’s essential you impress with your knowledge and passion from the word go.
- Don’t be shy with your business cards
Printing your own business cards saves costs and may encourage you to be more liberal when handing them out. Make it as easy as possible for them to get in touch with you and even go as far as adding them on LinkedIn so you can share interests with them and keep them close.
- Create great visual impact
If you’ve booked a place at an exhibition or business fair, make the most of your outlay by arriving armed with fantastic visual merchandising. It doesn’t take a specialist printer to create amazing advertising either. Today, a good quality office printer can be utilised to great effect, producing all sorts of excellent printed materials, from flyers and leaflets to banners and posters.
- Tell a story
Case studies are an excellent way to outline your business’s services and to share examples of happy customers. If you’re hosting the event, take the time to write them up and give them out with an accompanying photo, print and handout. If you’re at someone else’s events ensure you know the in’s and out’s of your case studies and introduce them into conversation.
- Be confident
Confident people inspire confidence in others. Even if you feel unsure when meeting new people, try not to let it show. As long as are perceived as self-assured, others are likely to invest in you and your business, which could encourage business and connection in the future.
- Learn to listen
Ensure you take a genuine interest in what people are saying around you. When it comes to making connections with others, you have to show an interest in them. The people you meet at business events will sense if you’re not listening and become distrustful so always pay close attention.
- Ask questions
Give the other person time and space to speak by asking open questions. As well as communicating that you’re genuinely interested in someone, this will encourage a better start to the working relationship.
By following these easy tips, you can hone your networking skills without breaking your business budget so get out there, smile and champion your enterprise to all the right people.