One of the first investments made back in 2008 when Platform81 was in its infancy was a networking membership. This has undoubtedly proved to be THE best investment for generating business and attracting new clients and suppliers to Platform81.
The thought of attending a networking event can be quite daunting; a room full of strangers who want to thrust their business card in the hand and sell to you until the cows come home…but more often than not this is NOT the case!
There are many networking opportunities available to business people, but it is important to select the events and groups that work well for YOU and YOUR business.
Here are a few tips on how to tackle a networking meeting;
1) Set an objective for each meeting – If you don’t know what you want from a meeting, how do you know if it’s been successful? Whether it’s a sales meeting, a new supplier or simply to expand your network, make sure you know your success criteria.
2) How can I help YOU? – Don’t take a networking event as an opportunity to sell your business. Asking how you can help people gives the impression that you are genuine and looking to support others.
3) Keep opinions to yourself – First impressions count so it’s important not to be too opinionated. You could easily offend people who may have strong beliefs, so until you know someone well….remain tight lipped!
4) Be professional – The way you do something, is the way you do anything. Remember you are in a room of business people who could potentially use your services or refer you to their contacts. If you are late, look scruffy and are generally disruptive, this will reflect on people’s perception of your business.
5) The follow up – if you are agree to give someone a call, send an email or arrange a meeting, ensure that you do it!! Networking is all about building trust, so it is imperative that you do what you say you will.
6) Provide a world class service –If you are lucky enough to generate business, ensure that you do it to the best of your ability. It may only be a small job at first, but if you do this well, the bigger stuff will soon follow!
Networking is very much a long-term commitment. Don’t expect to get business straight away. It takes time to build relationships, and building trust with others can take a while.
If you are genuine, trusting and provide a great service, the business WILL come flowing through the door!