One of my new years resolutions is to attend more networking events this year. I not just only would like to broaden my international network, but also would like to meet people that share the same values and interests from a business and personal point of view. Networking is basically meeting and talking to people to socialize, share ideas, make new friends or a way to find suppliers, customers or business partners. I would like to focus this post on the business side. For many people professional networking can be quiet daunting, but I hope that the below list of recommendations will make it easier for you and also more enjoyable.
1. Decide carefully what you would like to get out of going to a networking event. Do you like to gain some more industry knowledge, find potential customers or business associates or maybe a new supplier?
2. Find a suitable networking event that suits your above chosen goal. Most networking events will be posted on online platforms, such as LinkedIn or meetup.
3. Due to these online platforms it is much easier to prepare for networking events. Check the attendees and find people that might be interesting to meet on the event. It is much easier if you have a name or even a face that you might recognise. Additionally, you might already know what they are looking for and it is easier to approach them.
4. Write down a few lines about your business and what you are offering or looking for. This will help you to present your business in a professional way and does not waste your time and the time of people attending the event.
5. Take enough business cards to your business networking event.
6. Don’t be shy. At the end, all the people attending these events are there to network and want to talk to you. Therefore, enter the crowd and you will see how quick you will find somebody to have a conversation with.
7. Make the round and try to speak with as many people as possible. Time is running and sometimes you just speak to three or four people and an hour is gone without actually having met the people you came to see.
8. When you have spoken to an interesting person you might want to quickly make some notes about the person on the business card or even better directly book a follow up appointment to discuss things further.
9. The day after the networking event, add your new contacts to your LinkedIn or Xing network. Even when most of them might not be directly somebody that might help you now to grow your business, but in future you might looking exactly for someone you have already met on a networking event. After all, it is easier to trusts somebody you have already met.
10. Just a note at the end. networking does not need to cost the world. There are many business networking events that only have a small fee or are even free. If you like business networking you can always join a regular networking group where you have to pay an annual fee.
Have fun networking and just give it a shot. I am sure you will enjoy it. Please also let me know what you have found to be useful when doing business networking.