Business Networking Tips
It is often said that business is done in Northern Ireland through word of mouth referrals and ultimately networking.
NI Chamber host over 60 business networking events in Belfast and across Northern Ireland every year. We have seen the good the bad and the ugly of networking. Below are the top 10 tips on business networking and how to do it correctly!
- Do your homework
Get in touch with the networking event organisers beforehand and ask for a list of attendees
Do your research; identify people you would like to meet then check them out on LinkedIn beforehand. This will give you the chance to know what they look like and know what they do.
A quick Google to see if their company is in the news so that you have a warm ice breaker see point 4.
- Set yourself an objective for the event
There’s more to it than giving our business cards. Think quality over quantity – your objective doesn’t have to be just about sales.
- Arrive on time
If you don’t like breaking into a group of strangers this is a great one as you will get to meet people as they arrive. It’s also a great opportunity to speak with the event organisers, you’ll have time to build up some rapport and ask for a personal introduction to another delegate.
- The art of conversation
Time to put your homework to work… “I saw you won award recently for best managed company, congratulations” is a lot more powerful than the weather’s desperate!
Have a few anecdotes that you can share over coffee.
- Remember you are not here to sell!
It’s all about building trust and getting to know people. The most you are selling is the next meeting over a cup of coffee.
- Connect other people
If you know someone that can benefit from one of the delegates services or vice versa make the connection. They’ll owe you one and if the opportunity arises they will hopefully repay the favour.
- You don’t know who they know
This point follows on from that previous one. If the person you are talking to has no natural fit with what you do or vice versa then ask them who else do they know?
- Help I’m stuck talking to the same person!!!
Here are a few tips:
• Bring someone else into the conversation and make your exit.
• Share your objective of meeting x people or find a potential supplier for y, wish them good luck and leave.
• Say it was lovely speaking to you but I’m sure you have other people to meet and enjoy the rest of the event then leave.
• If all else fails say you have to nip to the loo!
- Follow up after the event
This is not like dating – follow up straight away with a quick email and connect on LinkedIn. IF you’ve promised to send more info on anything, doing it quickly shows you’re interested, reliable and follow through on your promises
- This is the most important tip so here it goes again – follow up after the event – if you don’t then you’ve wasted your time going!