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How to get the most out of Networking

February 29, 2012

Published this week, this article will help you make the most of your networking opportunities, from the expert to the novice. 

EVERYONE talks about how important it is for businesses to take every opportunity, both formally and informally. Time is money, so how important is investment in networking?

No matter how good your business or business idea is, it is very unlikely that you will be able to achieve success on your own. Spending time developing contacts and drawing upon the expertise and contacts of others is essential if you want your business to achieve a real competitive edge.

More than 70% of new business is gained through word of mouth. Therefore, networking should be an integral part of the marketing strategy of every company that is serious about doing business. As well as identifying new business opportunities, networking allows you to share ideas, experience good practice, meet inspirational role models, combat isolation by making new contacts and increase your confidence and self-esteem.

Whether you need help to develop your technology, need to brush up your skills or are looking for new channels of distribution, networking and building up key contacts can give you the know-how you need.

Indeed know-how is fine, but know-who is even more important. People do business with other people … the element of trust that is created through effective networking is invaluable so it is important to make a great impression at events.

What are the top tips to help make the most of networking?

Effective networking comes with practice and as long as you have done some preparation (eg. develop some questions, a short snappy introduction and remember to take your business cards), you will find, with practice, that the rest comes naturally.

Planning: Choose carefully the events you go to. If possible obtain a guest list in advance.

Arriving: Arrive on time for the event – it always seems a lot easier to introduce yourself to someone when you are one of the first arrivals. Wear your name badge on the right. It’s where your eye goes to when you shake hands. Use organisers to introduce you to people, they are generally well connected and secondly it’s in their interest to do so.

Conversation: Keep conversation to neutral topics, avoid monopolising the conversation. Ask questions that require more than yes/no answers. You will create a better first impression if you deliberately copy the pace and volume of the person you are speaking to.

Business cards: If people are interested in what you do generally they will ask for a card – don’t offer your card right at the outset.

Taking notes: As a memory aid it can often be useful to make notes about a person on the back of their business card.

Follow up: Try to follow up with people you have met, recap on your business card notes, and add useful contacts to your database.

Be prepared to give as well as take and your reputation and credibility will grow as a result. This could provide some unexpected bonuses to your business as people are more prepared to forward leads to people that they trust and by helping someone you will stick in their mind.

For your invitation to a BNSW monthly network event, in Bristol, Taunton or Exeter click the logo.

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2 Comments
  1. Reblogged this on Businessnetworksw's Weblog and commented:

    What a great article by Carole White, business development manager at Tedco – networking in a nutshell!

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  1. Prioritise your Business with Networking Opportunites « Business Network SW

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