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Business Networking – the long game

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by Startacus Admin

Jemma Goba is the Managing Director of Tanami, video production company that creates engaging promotional video content, then delivers it strategically Tanamivia social media. Here Jemma writes for Startacus on how you can make an impact at business networking events...

I’ll admit it; when I first began attending networking events I didn’t get it. I’d eagerly scan the room for potential new business leads before quickly concluding there was nothing there for me, regretting my assumed to be wasted time.

Fast forward four years and it’s a spectacular 180°!  Rather than squinting to read name badges and talking business before I’d even taken a sip of coffee, I have realised that networking is actually about establishing new friendships, slowly growing business relationships and sharing contacts. Less ‘wham, bam, Jemma Goba Tanamithank-you ma’am’, it’s more the long game, to be enjoyed and nurtured.

The most important thing to remember is that networking is about building relationships and contacts; not the hard sell. Take the time to really listen, and be curious about what people do; you never know how people are connected and employers are more likely to hire people that they’d like to hang out with. If you’re new to the world of networking, the following should set you off on the right track:

Where to Find Networking Events

Your local Chamber of Commerce is a great resource; their whole reason for being is to facilitate connections. Check the web and social media for industry-specific events; technology, marketing and the arts are particularly likely to hold monthly gatherings and typically list via EventBrite. Otherwise, have a chat to your friends, colleagues, industry contacts; word of mouth is usually the best way to find the most effective networking events. Breakfast events usually include a decent bacon sarnie which always makes up for a super early start!

Arrive First

If you’re nervous about networking, this is one of the best tips I can give. Being one of the first people to arrive allows you more opportunity to connect one-to-one, instead of showing up late and trying infiltrate an existing conversation. People are also far more likely to remember you if you chat to them one-to-one before any networking fatigue sets in.

Business Networking tips

Everyone’s in the Same Boat

The easiest ‘in’ at a networking event is speaking to someone else who’s on their own; it makes for an immediate connection and bonding over the initial awkwardness is a great ice-breaker. There are people out there who were born to network, but if that’s not you, use it to your advantage and make it a topic of conversation. Ask people is they have attended the event before or what the format is.

Talk Honestly

Take the time to really understand your company, the range of services offered and how you add value. It’s so much easier to talk honestly and enthusiastically when you have the background knowledge to draw from. Before the event, have a good review of recent work in all departments, speak to colleagues in various areas and come armed with examples that will allow you to naturally enthuse about your offering. What excited you recently? Which project gave you the most joy? Talk about it! 

You Don’t Need to Know Everything

It can be flustering when people start asking detailed questions about your business; don’t be afraid to say you don’t know! If someone has a question that you can’t answer on the spot, then you have a perfect opportunity to follow up with them after the event. Even better, you get to learn something too.

Play the Long Game

If you’re going to make networking work for you, you’ll need to commit to attending regularly. The good news is that this takes all the stress out of the last-minute business card swapping; there’s no need to speed-pitch at the end of a chat. Remember that any contacts you make will most probably be at the next event and make sure to say ‘Hi!’ when you see them again. It’s these conversations over coffee that may develop into valuable connections many months down the line. 

If you liked this article on Business Networking and still need some more tips and advice - you might want to read previous published articles on Startacus:  The ABC of Networking or Beginner Tips on Business Networking.



 


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Published on: 9th June 2017

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