The benefit of attending networking events is now widely accepted in the business community. For most businesses of course, the main reason for attending is to raise their company’s profile with the aim of increasing enquiries and converted clients. Networking events are ideal for connecting with other local businesses to find out about issues and opportunities and exchange best practice. In addition, networking can help you find new suppliers or business partners.
Our 10 top tips will help you make the most of your networking events:
Do your research
Ask colleagues, search the internet or speak to contacts in your professional network to see which networking events there are around, and which ones are suitable for your business. There are general networking events for businesses in a particular geographical location, or specialised networking events, e.g. Ladies Lunch Clubs aimed at professional women who want to meet fellow businesswomen in an informal and supportive atmosphere.
Contact the organisers
Most organisers are keen to build relationships with potential and regular attendees so contacting them in advance will help you find out about the attendee profile, an estimate of attendee numbers, and how the event is run in general. The more they know about your business the easier it is for them to introduce you to suitable new contacts.
Book in advance
Some organisers offer a free trial or for regular businesses to bring along a new company. It is best to book in advance to ensure there is sufficient catering, and that a name badge can be prepared for you.
Prepare your pitch
Undoubtedly you will get asked ‘so, what do you do?’ numerous times, so it’s best to have a short response prepared.
Set realistic targets
If the attendee list is published prior to the event, choose a few people you would like to talk to. Having a specific target, like introducing yourself to 10 new contacts, ensures you go to the event with a purpose in mind. Be realistic in your expectations – it may take a few attempts to meet the right new contacts.
Most networking events have a dress code so it’s best to find out before attending.
Show an interest
Not everyone may require your services at that point in time but it is common courtesy to show an interest in other people’s businesses. Be friendly, chatty, and professional.
Bring business cards
There’s nothing worse than having just made a great new contact and having to scramble around in your bag for a piece of paper and pen.
Relax and enjoy
Everyone is there for the same reasons, and although it may seem a little daunting at first, most networking events offer a very friendly and supportive atmosphere. If you are nervous ask one of the organisers to introduce you to people whom you are interested in meeting.
It is common courtesy to write a quick follow-up email after the event to those whose business cards you were given.
If you are interested in a relaxed and friendly networking event in Sussex and Surrey why not consider attending the Ladies Lunch Club.
You may also like to read about our Top Networking Events in Sussex