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Paternoster patter, elevator pitch or conversations and connections…networking tips from Business Network SW

July 29, 2015

A bit of advice for any networking that you do – and this was given to me a number of years ago!

When we meet people at networking events they will be “representing” their business – but they are also consumers who have a life outside business, have homes, families, cars, want holidays, places to visit and places to eat and drink – and they will know lots of people in their “non business life” who will have those B2C needs!

Most people aren’t born with a natural talent for networking – a bit like any business skill it takes practice, research, reading, listening and practice – like all skills the more you practice the better you become. You will never know which event will lead to finding a mentor, a collaborator, a co-founder, a customer, a supplier,  a connection that will be useful to you, your business or someone that you know at a later date. As Robert Kiyosaki says “The richest people in the world grow and build networks.  Everyone else looks for work”

Research

There’s never a reason to go into an event blind. Research using all the tools available – what’s being said on Twitter, LinkedIn, who goes to the events, is the event listed on Find Networking Events, who’s the host, where is the event, is there parking, is it invitation only, how much will it cost, is there food, is there a business seminar, what do you need to prepare for, is it speedy or relaxed – and any other questions you need answering!  The host is there to broker introductions and help you get the most from the event

Go with a plan

Failure to plan is planning to fail – as Benjamin Franklin said – this applies to a networking event as much as any other business/life activity.  Go with some goals but keep it simple; maybe your goal is to exchange information with five new people; share some knowledge;  talk about something other than business (now there’s a thought!) – not meet as many as possible or get an order – would you give an order to someone you’ve only just met? Do keep in mind that plans can change – a conversation that you have could lead somewhere that you weren’t expecting – a real win-win-win moment!

Be on time

Arrive as close to the event’s designated start time as possible – even a bit early – a great time to meet the host and before groups have started to form.  If you are there “first” then people will gravitate to you or vice versa!  One thing I would add is to look for those people who may be on their own – approach them, smile, be friendly and start a conversation – another win/win!

Be approachable

Body language is everything, especially when meeting new people.  What does yours say about you?  Look at people’s feet – look at your own – an open stance in inviting!  If there is someone on their own go and introduce yourself – how much easier is it to do that and how good will the person feel that they are no longer on their own.  Put your phone away – you’re there to talk to people face to face!  Relax, smile and remember that other people will be as nervous as you!

Know when to stop talking, know how to listen!

A conversation should never be dominated by one party. We have all heard the 2 ears, one mouth analogy  – this is what works best!  Listen, ask questions, and truly be engaged in what the other participant is saying, instead of focusing on what you want to tell him or her next, or on looking for someone else in the event or even worse looking at your phone!  Know how to move on politely – perhaps go together to get another drink or join other people you know and to introduce the person you’re with to the others – you can move on without leaving them on their own!

Don’t give a pitch/elevator speech/lift oration/paternoster patter/step ladder presentation

Unless someone asks, keep your business plan/business jargon/businesses successes to yourself. Why not share general interests and keep the focus on having a genuine conversation. How do you do this – ask questions – ask questions that will help you get to know the person – become interested in them! Open questions tend to give the best answers and are a great catalyst for conversation.   Networking shouldn’t be about just finding someone who can offer something to your business. It’s about forming new relationships. And if your business is brought up, only share what they want to know. Don’t go into pitch/elevator speech/lift oration/paternoster patter/stepladder presentation mode!

Follow up

Networking doesn’t end when the event does. Attending events is useless if you don’t take the time to follow up afterwards. Best practice say you should follow up within 24-48 hours of the event.

How you do it is up to you or should I say up to how you have promised/agreed to follow up with the people that you have met. It could be via LinkedIn (a personal invitation), on Twitter (following them), an email, a phone call, arranging a coffee and one to one – the choice is yours!

What it’s not is your newsletter (unless they have asked), never a blanket email – either to everyone at the event or even a blanket email that showing the email address of everyone you met.   It’s a good idea to reference the event and something you discussed, business related or otherwise – a business card is a great place to do this and this can then be added to your CRM system.  Keep your tone professional, but relaxed – having just read an article in The Guardian about politeness then take the time to treat and communicate with others as you yourself would like to be dealt with.   Give them time to respond before sending a second follow-up – this is where connecting on LinkedIn and/or Twitter is far better – keeping each other updated but indirectly!

The list is not endless so feel free to comment and add your top tips!

Post written by

Event host - Sean Humby

Business Network SW Director and event host Sean Humby

100 reasons to attend a BNSW event 2015

2015 Event dates

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Call 01981 540708

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Email sean@business-network.co.uk

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Have a great day

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