I was inspired to write this post by the very lovely Susie of Think Social Business last week, and it has taken me a week to getting around to doing this post!
If I can help one business owner in reading this article feel slightly more prepared than I was, then I’ve made a MASSIVE difference to someone’s business building journey.
So, for those of you who don’t really know me, let me explain a little bit about WHY you might want to have a read of what I’ve got to say in this post today.
I have been involved with a Global Networking Organisation now for over 3 years as a member, building and promoting the business you see right before your eyes inside this website. For the last 2 years, I have been privileged enough to be a part of the Essex regional team. Supporting members (much like myself) grow and develop their businesses through this amazing referral marketing machine.
3 years ago, I was relatively inexperienced in networking. I mean I knew how to talk to people, and I always had (still have!) a lot to say for myself. But I had never sat down and coherently thought about the message I was portraying. (On a daily basis, I am reminded of this thanks to Facebook “Memories”)
I will never forget the first time I entered a professional networking environment! For many right reasons, but also for a few crucial wrong reasons; which is why I wanted to write this today!
So, here goes!
1) ALWAYS have something prepared to stand up & say! Even if you are (much like I was) the most nervous person on the planet, and all you can manage is your name, business and the types of people you want to meet – that is absolutely FINE!
Try and keep your pitch to about 60 seconds in length – this is a safe option across varying networking organisations that are out there. Focus on ONE aspect of your company, product or service, as believe me (I’ve tried) an A-Z of everything you do, doesn’t fit inside 1 minute!
I meet SO many people who find the whole “public speaking” so difficult – do what makes you feel comfortable! Nobody will judge you for doing just that. Remember EVERY single person in that room was once invited to a networking meeting for the first time.
2) Arrive EARLY – if the invitation states 7.30 for an 8am start, be there for 7.30! Those nerves I’ve mentioned above are often put at ease if you get to make the most of the “Open Networking” that many of these events often start with.
Networking Secret Revealed Below!!!
Open Networking is often where MOST of the real business is done and the relationships have been forged. So by the time the meeting formally starts, ask yourself this “What have I done for my business in that time?” if the answer is “nothing” then I would suggest you have another go on the next visit!
3) Business Cards are an ABSOLUTE MUST! Bring an entire box full (You know those plastic boxes they are delivered in) There is NOTHING worse than running out of cards whilst they are being passed around the room, mid room. What if your next best introducer doesn’t manage to get one?
4) Ask to be introduced to people! You have got up, dedicated time to netWORK so ensure its a worthwhile exercise – when you arrive and are met by someone who will be looking after you, ask who else is a member or visiting. Do they have a business synergy? Go and get that warm introduction face to face. (Good networking groups will already know about your business and do this bit for you, but just in case …. It’s always good to know you can instigate this yourself)
5) Dress BUSINESS appropriate – You are your own walking, talking, advert. If you have branded clothing WEAR IT! If you are a tradesperson (again I see so many wonderful tradesmen on my own networking journeys) and you wear one of them utility belts daily – wear it! Its good for people to get a feel for the “real” you. If you don’t wear a three piece suit for work, then don’t. If there is a dress code for the venue (a lot of Golf Clubs don’t allow denim, as an example) or the event; YOU SHOULD BE NOTIFIED.
6) BE MEMORABLE – This is probably THE single most important piece of advice I could ever give you! Being memorable can take its form in MANY different ways:
Marketing Materials – Many networking organisations out there want to promote those members and visitors in the room. So aside from Business Cards, you could perhaps have an indoor Roller Banner showcasing your business up throughout the meeting. Highly visual, and subconsciously getting into the minds of those in the room around you. Or you could have a leaflet with an offer on or talking about a specialist product in more depth, which you can leave with someone to take away.
Use a Memory Hook – Put this in your “pitch” / 60 seconds / weekly presentation. Quite simply, ours is “Quality print, at affordable prices” Think about other Brands – That one line alone makes you remember them:
- Nike – Just Do It
- McDonalds – I’m Lovin’ It
The list isn’t exhaustive here either! One of the most MEMORABLE ones I’ve ever heard was from a Photographer I know, Gary Fernon is his name and his, still to this day is:
“Without photography, there is NO history”
Be Open Minded – sounds strange for me to say this, but it WILL make you memorable! You have absolutely no idea who these events will open doors too. I’ve met everyone from a woman who sold “Adult Toys” to a high level Pastor of a church and everyone you could think of in-between. Each person I’ve met I’ve taken the time to speak to, and understand. You wouldn’t believe how grateful people are when you show interest.
Everyone has a different motivation for joining or attending a networking group. Most of us are chasing money, but after a while – the money is secondary to the opportunity it represents. Networking regularly helps you grow and cultivate relationships personally and professionally. It certainly makes you BETTER at business, and it offers you as much personal development as you can handle.
In my 3 years involved with the Networking organisation I’ve been with I have grown so much as a person.
I now help deliver workshops to our members, which in turn helps them get more business opportunities. I’ve got a sounding board in my “home” group I attend weekly. They give me support, advice and ideas to help me grow this fantastic family business I am proud to work in and part own.
I LISTEN to people. I am interested in the different types of businesses and people out there, and I clearly, and often quickly see opportunity to put people together so that everyone has bigger and better opportunities to drive LOCAL business forward on levels people can only “think” of.
I guess to end this post, I should probably give you some real time facts, because if you are reading this, you want to go networking, or change what you are doing, and getting business is your motivation right now (I would believe)
- Over 35% of our turnover comes from the “weekly” group I am a member of
- Going into 2017 we are further developing a relationship with a HUGE brand that will certainly put an additional £20K a month on our turnover. This is also, very likely to be £40K per month.
- I am not a 90 minute member, I work hard for my fellow colleagues (or sales team as I like to call them) Every opportunity I have, I will try and open an opportunity to pass bonafide business to those who do it for me on a weekly basis too.
And, lastly, you’ll be pleased to know, as a Printer, I NEVER turn up anywhere without my Business Cards or my Roller Banner or An Open Mind!
If you want to know how we can help you be fully prepared for attending a networking event, then please check out our newest bundled package right here!
I hope to see some of you soon!