Networking is a very important activity when running a business. It allows you to meet other local businesses, helps establish a network, allows you to build a reputation and fingers crossed will find you some new customers.
It is very important that you prepare in advance and research the variety of networking groups that are available to you. One thing, though; Who am I going to meet? There always is, at least, one:
Mr Chatterbox - this character loves to talk, they are not to bothered what they talk about but they will ensure every little bit of silence is filled. Be careful that you don’t get stuck being talked at. Networking is all about conversations, identifying common ground so people can form relationships. Guess what, people do business with people they like. So make sure you aren’t a chatterbox, ask the other person questions and remember to listen to their answers.
Little Miss Helpful - this is a great character to know or be introduced to. There is always someone who knows everybody, they will love it if you ask them for some help and they could introduce you to someone that is perfect for your business. Why not try to be the helpful person yourself? Help someone out and it is vital that you deliver on any promises made. This will help you build your reputation and in return, they will want to help you.
Little Miss Shy - this character can be found standing on their own, often near the tea and coffee. Make it your job to go and say hello, have a chat, introduce them to others and help to include them in the conversation. It may be their first time at a networking event and they don’t know anyone, they may have been sent along by their boss and it's not their normal job or they may just be out of the comfort zone. But they will always think of you as a lovely person.
Mr Grumpy - This character is full of negativity and will allow having something to moan about. Make sure this isn’t you!! People don’t want to hear about all your problems, they are certainly unlikely to want to stay in touch or do business with you. Can you imagine them referring their clients to you? So, before you go in, pause and leave all your grumbles in the car. Focus on the positive and try to enjoy yourself.
Little Miss Busy - this character could do with being in two places at once. Places to go, people to see. So why not pick their brains as to some other good networking events that you could try. I’m sure they would invite you along as a visitor and can then help introduce you to people. There are so many events you can try, so be a Little Miss Busy and find the ones that are best for you and work hard at them.
Mr Nobody - ah this little character has tried networking but they didn’t know anyone and no one spoke to them and they got no business, so guess what? They don’t want to go again!
You need to work at networking, it’s not a miracle where you will walk into a room and someone will give you business. Make sure you talk to people and that they remember you for all the right reasons. Be interested in them, find some common ground, try to help people, stay in touch just don’t be a nobody.