Do's and don'ts of business networking
Business networks are great tools for businesses who want to grow and develop, but simply attending such an event is just half the battle. The way you approach business networking can easily determine how successful you are in creating new contacts and clients which is why it’s good to know what things to focus on, and what you need to avoid.
Be clear, confident and concise
When describing your business, remember that your audience will quickly lose interest if you are too long winded or are unable to outline your offering quickly. Read our page on knowing your elevator pitch to help you condense your description into something short and snappy.
People love talking about what they are passionate about; one of the oldest tricks in the book to get people to really engage with you is to ask lots of questions about their business: how it started, what they are offering and so on. Of course don’t interview them, but asking lots of questions and showing genuine interest helps move the conversation in a natural and mutually beneficial way.
Make friends and follow up
Odds are that you have met a lot of people during at an event and have received a lot of business cards and contact details. Make a point of getting back in touch a month or two later to see how they are getting on; you might just catch them at the right time to talk about potential business opportunities.
Get too personal
On one hand you want to connect to other people on a human level and be yourself, but you don’t want to go too far. Remember where you are, and that you are there for business reasons; talking about your personal life may be inappropriate and you may say something that completely turns off any business opportunity.
Give up or be impatient
Networking events are full of people and not everyone is likely to show you the interest that you would ideally want. If someone cold shoulders or ignores you, simply move on and find someone else who may be more receptive.
Forget your manners
Manners go a long way in life and also reflect you as a professional. If two people are having a conversation and you want to get involved, don’t jump straight in or interrupt. Similarly, if someone makes a comment about your business that you may not agree with, don’t jump to defense. Keep your cool and remain professional.
Another great way to build contacts and improve your networking skills is to enrol in one of our fantastic workshops. Aimed at entrepreneurs, inventors and innovators, our workshops such as ‘How do I research a business idea?’, ‘How do I start using social media for business?’ and ‘Introduction to using the Business & IP Centre’ are geared towards helping your business succeed by giving you all the tools and data you need to make informed decisions.