Networking has become an essential part of a company’s marketing mix. Thankfully, the old-fashioned hard sell has gone out of the window and a more ‘relationship-focused’ approach is key.
For those new to networking, it’s simply an accelerated version of word of mouth marketing, so for many, it’s easier to network with a room full of strangers, than to use other conventional marketing methods (i.e. cold calling).
But relationships take time and people need to establish an element of trust before referring you to their best contacts.
So, here are 5 essential tips to effective networking:
1. Be specific. Ask fellow networkers for an introduction into a certain department, in a particular industry in a specific location. If possible, name the company. People will find it easier to spot opportunities for you if they know what to look for. If you’re struggling for inspiration, carry out a LinkedIn search beforehand or note down companies you drive by on the way to the meeting.
2. Meeting Etiquette. You never get a second chance to make a first impression and networking is no exception. If you wouldn’t do it in a normal meeting, then don’t do it whilst networking. So leave your mobile phone alone.
3. Follow up. Many people will complain that they don’t get anything out of networking. Very rarely will any orders just fall in your lap so don’t expect it to happen whilst networking either. It takes time and hard work. When you arrive back in the office, ensure you do something with the information you’ve gained.
4. Lend a hand. Get involved with the group and help out. This will give you the chance to work with members that you may not think you have any synergy with – but you’ll be surprised.
5. Prepare & set goals. Even if its two minutes in the car on the way to the venue, if you plan ahead, you’ll spend less time thinking about what you’re going to say and more time listening and making the most out of the networking meeting.
If you’re new to networking or a seasoned professional, why not visit a Derby Hub meeting?