If you’re new to networking you might be wondering about etiquette and the ‘dos and don’ts of networking’. Whilst Southwell Networking Club has an informal approach with no hard and fast rules, there are things you can do to get the most from your experience.
Here are our top tips for effective business networking.
- Be prepared. Before you set off for the meeting, think about what you want to get out of it. In particular, consider the other business types you’d like to meet, so you can ask for introductions if appropriate. And prepare an introductory patter about your business – especially if you’ll be giving an ‘elevator pitch’ to the room.
- Get there early. It’s only polite to be on time and it won’t look good if you trail in 15 minutes after everyone else. By getting to the meeting early, you can also maximise your networking opportunities and speak to as many people as possible.
- Dress appropriately. How you dress might depend on how formal the meeting is, or simply on the nature of your business. For example, if you’re a tradesperson, it’s fine to come along in your work clothes or uniform, provided these are clean and tidy. If you’re not sure, smart casual is a safe bet.
- Ask questions and listen. Make the people you’re talking to feel like you’re genuinely interested and value what they’re saying (which should be the case anyway!) Make eye contact, don’t interrupt and ask relevant questions. Whatever you do, don’t keep looking around the room for someone else to talk to.
- Introduce yourself. If you’d like to meet someone, go for it! Of course, you can ask for an introduction as noted above but it’s equally fine to take the initiative and just get on with it. As long as you’re not interrupting, of course. When you introduce yourself, do so with a firm handshake and make eye contact. Be friendly but professional.
- Talk to people standing alone. People who are new to networking can feel a little overwhelmed. So, help them out – go over and have a chat with them. Introduce yourself and then ask them to tell you about their business. Then involve other people in the conversation if you can.
- Move on politely. Networking’s all about meeting different people, so don’t stay with one person throughout the meeting, or talk to the same business owners at each event. Working the room is a skill, but it’s not difficult – just be polite when you move on and try not to leave people on their own.
- Stay off your phone! Don’t spend all your time on the phone at networking meetings. Not only is it rude and disrespectful, it also stops you getting the most from the event.
- Follow up promptly. If you’ve met people you think could be useful contacts, don’t forget to follow up with them afterwards – even if it’s just a quick email. Better still, arrange a follow-up meeting to discuss in depth how you could work together.
- Don’t expect too much, too soon. As mentioned above, networking helps develop know, like and trust. But this takes time, so it’s not reasonable to expect leads and referrals at your very first meeting. It pays to persevere, so give people the chance to get to know you and understand your business.
Secure your place at our next business networking meeting
We’d love to see you at our next networking meeting here in Southwell. Business networking meetings are usually held on the first Thursday of the month at various venues around Southwell. We also arrange social fundraising events – you can see details of all our future events here.
Places are limited so please book early to avoid disappointment. Hope to see you at a meeting soon.